Each year, tens of thousands of people are injured in slip-and-fall accidents. The most common time of year individuals find themselves or their loved ones a victim of a slip- or trip-and-fall accident is during the winter. When these incidents take place, it is sometimes difficult to determine who is ultimately at fault for the incident. Generally, there are a few factors that personal injury attorneys look at in determining liability.
Liability in Slip-and-Fall Accidents
A person who suffers a serious injury from a slip-and-fall accident that is the result of a dangerous condition on another person’s property may be eligible for compensation if the property owner is found liable. To determine liability in a slip- or trip-and-fall accident, the plaintiff must be able to prove one of three conditions: the property owner or his employee caused the hazardous condition in or directly outside his establishment; the property owner or his employee knew of the hazardous condition, but failed to fix or repair it; and the property owner or employee should have been aware of the hazardous condition because a “reasonable” person in his or her position would have recognized the dangerous circumstances and fixed it.
Negligence in Slip-and-Fall Accidents
Businesses and homeowners have a duty of care to maintain their property in reasonably safe conditions. One question a slip-and-fall accident victim should ask themselves is: If the property owner took more care to ensure that the premises were safely maintained, could this accident have been avoided?
For example, if a slip-and-fall accident occurred as a result of a store owner failing to shovel the snow on the walkway or not salting an icy stoop, the injured person may have a cause of action against the owner of the establishment for negligence due to failure to adequately maintain the property. However, if the store owner did shovel the snow from the walkway and put down salt prior to the store opening, but, hours later, the snowfall covers the walkway and an individual slips, trips or falls outside the establishment, a store owner could be protected from liability. In this scenario, a store owner could argue that they took proper precautions, but the snow came too quickly before a reasonable person could remove it.
A personal injury victim should also consider whether or not they contributed to the slip-and-fall accident. New York is a pure comparative negligence state, which means that, if the victim, in some way, contributed to the slip-and-fall accident, the award for injuries and other damages will be reduced in proportion to the plaintiff’s negligence.
For example, if a property owner has a caution sign visible to patrons explaining that the walkways may be icy, but the person fails to read it because they are being careless and texting, which causes them to slip, he or she may be unlikely to have a cause of action against the store owner. Here, a reasonably prudent person in the shoes of the injured party would have read the sign and avoided any injury. Furthermore, if an individual uses a walkway in a manner in which it is not intended to be used and sustains an injury, they would not likely have a case against the property owner.
If you have been injured in a slip- or trip-and-fall accident this winter season, contact a personal injury attorney who is skilled at dealing with premises liability matters. The attorneys at Levine & Slavit, PLLC have over 50 years of experience representing clients in personal injury actions, including slip-and-fall accident injuries. With offices conveniently located in Manhattan and Long Island, Levine & Slavit, PLLC represents clients throughout New York City and both Nassau and Suffolk counties. For more information and to schedule a consultation, call (888) LAW-8088.