The Reinartz Law Firm, LLC.
Premises liability in New York
The Reinartz Law Firm is a top-ranked New York personal injury law firm, representing clients in slip and fall or other premises liability cases. We have a proven track record of top-dollar compensation results for our clients who have been seriously injured by the gross negligence of property owners in the upkeep and maintenance of their buildings and grounds.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is the legal term for the responsibility of a property owner to maintain a safe and accessible environment to the public. If someone owns property that is open to the public, they are required by law to keep it free of any hazards such as snow, ice, spills, construction materials and the like. That responsibility translates into legal liability if someone is injured on their premises.
If it can be proven in court that the public areas of the premises were known to be dangerous, and were the direct cause of injury, then the owner can be held liable, or responsible, to pay for all related medical costs and lost wages due to a visitor’s injuries.
By hiring the Reinartz Law Firm to represent you in your premises liability lawsuit, we can help you win the maximum possible compensation for your injuries, which is often much greater than what insurance companies offer without legal representation.
What types of premises liability cases do we represent?
We have extensive experience representing clients in all types of premises liability cases across New York. Most cases fall under the laws governing negligence on behalf of public property owners.
Slip and fall accidents
Slip and Fall Accidents are the most common type of premises liability case that gets filed in New York. These cases involve injuries that were sustained when the plaintiff suffered injuries from a fall while legally on someone else’s property. While the vast majority of slip and fall cases occur on public property like retail locations, public parking lots, shopping malls and grocery stores, some are filed against owners of private residences.
Winter bring the most slip and fall cases in New York, when icy steps, snowy sidewalks and slippery walking surfaces abound. Property owners are responsible for clearing any public sidewalks or steps during the winter months from all snow and ice to prevent any mishaps and injuries. Failure to property treat commonly-traversed pathways can result in municipal fines as well as compensation to anyone injured.
We represent cases of serious injuries caused by dog bites, which are actually a type of premises liability. For a dog bite lawsuit to be successful, you must be able to show that your injuries are due to the dog’s lack of training from its owner or that the dog was not sufficiently restrained. The victim must also have reason to be on the dog owner’s property legally and cannot be found to have taunted or goaded the animal, thereby inciting its attack.
If you suffered a dog bite while legally on or near the dog owner’s property, you may have a premises liability case. While there is no broad “leash law” that covers all of New York, each municipality enforces its own variation of how dogs must be restrained. Also, it can be difficult to prove that the dog’s owner is liable if there are no prior reports of vicious or dangerous behavior from that particular animal. Therefore, it is important to have legal representation who is knowledgeable in all aspects of New York liability and dog bite laws.
Swimming pool accidents
There has been a growing increase in swimming pool related premises liability accidents in recent years. Unfortunately, most swimming pool accidents tragically involve children, which has resulted in stricter regulations for swimming pool owners.
We represent victims and victims’ families who have suffered swimming pool accidents that result in serious injury or even death due to a property owner’s failure to properly enclose their pool according to regulations. New York outlines specific guidelines that property owners are required to adhere to for the safety of all swimmers and visitors. These laws include codes for supervision, fences, gates, and pool coverings that must be followed for public safety.
If injuries occur when these regulations have not been followed, the swimming pool owners can be held liable for all medical costs as well as other charges and suffering related to the accident.
How can premises liability be proven?
Not every injury from a fall results in a premises liability case. Many facets of cause and effect must be proven in order to win any amount of compensation for injuries. At the Reinartz Law Firm, we will work with you to get all of the details of your accident to determine if your experience satisfies all of the qualifications of a premises liability case.
Duty of care
First, we must establish that the property owner had a duty of care to you, the injured person. This means that it is recognized that the property owner has a responsibility to maintain his or her property at a certain standard of care for the public. They must keep up with regular maintenance, cleaning and care so their property does not pose a hazard to visitors. Specifically, this includes clearing public walkways, fixing broken steps and leveling public sidewalks, among other tasks.
There are varying levels of duty of care, based on the nature of the relationship between the visitor and the property owner. The highest duty of care is owed to invitees, while a lesser degree of care is owed to licensees. No duty of care is owed to trespassers, with very few exceptions, including children.
For private residences, this highest duty of care is extended toward anyone who was invited over, as well as any individuals who have to visit for work. If a person was explicitly invited over and suffered a serious injury to negligence or lack of care, that property owner may be held liable.
Mail carriers and other delivery persons, utility meter readers and other professionals are considered as licensees because their work requires them to cross property lines. While not held to as high of a standard as invitees, property owners are still required to post warnings about hazards or other potential dangers that are known to exist on the property.
For owners of commercial properties, any potential customer or client is considered an invitee and is therefore owed a duty of care. Since the success of a business depends upon clientele, no specific invitation is required in order to show duty of care. All commercial property owners must clearly warn visitors about potential dangers that could result in injury. Wet paint, wet floors, spills, cones, blockades and other warnings must be clearly posted for all visitors to see.
If an adult is injured while trespassing on private property, no duty of care is owed by the property owner to the trespasser, therefore there is no liability to pay for any injury-related costs to the trespasser. However, if the property owner catches the trespasser in the act of trespassing, they must verbally warn them off their property and share any known hazards to avoid potential danger. If the visitor continues to trespass after such a warning and is then injured, they may not have reason to charge the owner with premises liability.
The attractive nuisance doctrine
The one exception to the trespassing rule applies to children. It is known that children are drawn to dangerous hazards like trampolines, abandoned buildings and unfenced swimming pools. So New York enforces the “attractive nuisance” doctrine in cases where landowners are aware that children may trespass and sustain injury. They are required to either fence off, block off or remove these attractive nuisances to deter potential injury to children who may trespass. Certain aspects of this law are subjective, such as the age of the child who trespasses and what defines “reasonable care” on the part of the property owner to prevent injury.
Breach of duty of care
If duty of care is established, then we must prove that that duty of care was knowingly breached by the land owner in order to prove premises liability. This basically means that the property owner had knowledge of the danger, yet did not take any steps toward improving, fixing or warning the public about the danger.
If it cannot be proven that the property owner had advance knowledge of the dangers, then breach of duty of care might not be proven, limiting the ability to collect compensation for your injuries.
The third piece in proving premises liability is causation. We must be able to clearly illustrate that your injuries are the direct result of the hazardous property conditions and nothing else. Depending on the types of injuries sustained, expert medical witnesses may be needed to verify that your injuries were directly related to your fall or accident on the property.
Finally, damages must be calculated in order to receive compensation for premises liability injuries. Damages are the sum total of all costs related to your medical treatment, any hospital and ambulance bills, prescription drugs, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages due to missed work from your injuries. Additionally, if your injuries prevent you from returning to work, we can calculate future lost wages that can be included in a compensation award.
The Reinartz Law Firm can help
We at the Reinartz Law Firm have extensive experience in all kinds of premises liability cases throughout New York. Let us put our wealth of knowledge to work for you to get you the maximum possible compensation for your injuries. Call us today for a free consultation of your case and we can help you begin down the road to recovery for both your physical and financial health.