How is Liability Determined for a Slip and Fall Accident? 

February 28, 2023Personal Injury

One of the most common types of personal injury claims in New York is for slip and fall accidents. If a person slips and falls, the person who owns or occupies the property can be held responsible for their injuries.

The Property Owners’ Duty of Care

When determining who is liable for a slip and fall accident in New York, consider the duty of care the property owner or occupier owes those visiting their property. Property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably free of hazards and safe enough that those visiting should not expect injury. This duty of care may differ depending on the visit, for instance, if the person was invited or was a trespasser.

Duty of Care Owed to Invitees

Invitees are visitors invited to be on the property for business or commercial purposes, such as hair salon clients, clients, or shoppers in a store. Property owners and occupiers, such as those renting a particular property, owe a more elevated duty of care to invitees than other visitors.

This means they are required to take reasonable steps to assure the property they have invited people to visit is free of hazards and is safe from possible causes of injury. If there are known hazards, like a step down into a dining room, that might not be noticed immediately, they are required to let their patrons know it is there.

Licensees and the Duty of Care They are Owed

For reasons other than commercial purposes, such as social guests, visitors on the property are known as licensees. The duty of care for these guests is slightly lower. Property owners owe them a warning about known hazards that might cause injury, but they are not responsible for actively remedying the situation.

Are Trespassers Owed a Duty of Care?

Trespassers are uninvited visitors. If the property owner is aware of their presence, they are required to warn them of hazards to avoid injury. Property owners cannot intentionally harm them, but they do not owe them much duty of care.

What is a Breach of Duty?

When property owners or occupiers breach their duty of care, they can be held responsible for the injuries sustained. To prove a breach of care, the injured person must prove that the property owner did not provide a safe environment and failed to warn their visitors of potentially dangerous hazards.

Maintaining a Safe Environment is Paramount to Avoiding Slip and Fall Suits

If someone slips and falls because of it, they are responsible for the fall. Following a slip and fall accident, the property owner can be liable if they fail to provide a safe environment. An example is when a grocery store has a spill but fails to send someone to clean up the mess promptly.

Another instance would be if there were loose or broken steps that the owner neglected to repair. If that step caused someone to slip and fall, the property owner could be negligent.

Property Owners are Responsible for Warning Guests of Potential Hazards

Property owners may also find themselves liable for slip and fall accidents if they fail to warn guests properly about hazards. An example would be failing to place a sign on a freshly mopped area of a store to warn visitors that the floor may be slippery.

The property owner, realizing the wet floor might not be obviously slippery, must practice a duty of care by warning his visitors. If he fails to do this, he could be liable for injuries that happened because of his breach of care.

Proving Liability in a Slip and Fall Accident

For proof of liability, there are several factors that the injured party must prove. The onus is on them to demonstrate that the accident was the property owner’s fault.

Demonstrating Causation

To prove that the property owner is liable for the slip and fall accident, they must demonstrate that the property owner’s breach directly caused the accident. This means proving that the accident was avoidable if only the property owner had fulfilled their duty of care.

Proof of Damages in a Slip and Fall Accident

In order to win a slip and fall claim, the injured person has to have suffered damages attributed to the accident. Some of the damages may include the following:

  • Medical expenses
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Emotional anguish
  • Future medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost educational opportunities
  • Therapy and rehabilitative care

These factors and their impacts will be considered when determining the amount of compensation the injury victim might recover.

Comparative Fault in a New York Slip and Fall Accident

In New York, we follow a comparative fault system. This means that the injured party’s percentage of fault is considered when determining their compensation following a slip and fall accident.

So, if the court decides that the injured person contributed 30% to their accident, then the total amount of damages will be tallied, and they will be awarded only 70% since 30% was their own fault.

Statute of Limitations on Slip and Fall Injury Cases in New York

If you or someone you love has been injured in a slip and fall accident in New York, and you feel it is because of the negligence of the property owner, you must be aware of the statute of limitations. Personal injury lawsuits in New York must be filed three years from the date that the accident took place. Your slip and fall accident injury attorney will understand how to protect your rights.

Seeking Legal Counsel to Protect Your Rights

Personal injury law in the state of New York can be complicated to navigate, so it is essential to have an experienced legal team leading the way. Gold & Gold, P.A., understand your rights and how to protect them. We will fight for the maximum settlement available to you. Reach out today for a free consultation.