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Premises Liability 101: Understand Your Rights

Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowitz, Schatz & Frederick, LLP -

Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises in safe working condition. When this does not happen, those living in or visiting the property may be injured as a result. Get the facts on premises liability laws in New York City to understand whether you have a case.

Property Owners’ Responsibility

While states and cities have unique laws surrounding premises liability, New York City typically specifies that the property owner is the party responsible for keeping their premises in safe condition. Along with scheduling regular inspections of their property, property owners must ensure the day-to-day operations of their premises are safe for tenants, visitors, service workers, and anyone else who may step foot on their property. If the owner fails to do so and someone gets injured on their property, they may be held liable for damages.

Property owners must follow local, state, and federal safety requirements, including the following:

  • Building owners must know how many smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are required per floor and whether they must be hard-wired.

  • Building owners must understand the dangers of lead paint on their property, and know how to get rid of lead paint hazards according to the guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  • Building owners must know how to detect and remove mold on their property, particularly toxic mold.

  • Building owners must understand the requirements for banisters and lighting in stairwells.

  • Building owners must know if there is a maximum number of people per bedroom or square feet.

  • Building owners must know whether they need to use fire retardant paint in confined areas such as stairwells.

  • Building owners must understand weather-related laws, particularly in areas where snowfall is common.

Property owners must also perform routine inspections and preventative maintenance on their property, including the following:

  • Exterminating regularly

  • Checking to make sure all smoke detectors function properly

  • Cleaning out rain gutters

  • Shoveling snow from walkways

  • Putting out garbage according to your city’s collection schedule

Types of Premises Liability Cases

Premises liability cases are not limited to slip and fall injuries, though that is a common one. Learn about the various types of injury cases for which a property owner may be held liable for.

Ceiling Collapse

A ceiling collapse can cause serious injuries and major damage to your apartment or business. Whether you were injured by a ceiling collapse at a property you rent, another person’s residential property, or a commercial property, liability may lie with one or more parties, including the following:

  • Upstairs neighbors

  • Property owners

  • Building managers

  • Current or previous contractors

  • Construction crews

A qualified personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation of the accident and help you determine the responsible party.

Dog Bites

In the state of New York, dog owners may be held legally responsible for injuries their dogs inflict if:

  • The dog was previously adjudicated as dangerous

  • The victim can prove the dog had dangerous tendencies and the owner knew of or should have reasonably known of these tendencies

Dog owners may be held liable for medical and veterinary costs if their dog bites a person or animal “without provocation.” Dog bite claims have a statute of limitations of three years, so it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you begin the legal process as soon as possible.

Elevator and Escalator Accidents

While elevators and escalators prove very useful in New York City, they also pose risks to the public, including catastrophic injury and death.

Common escalator and elevator accidents include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Elevator drops and falls

  • Trip and fall accidents caused by an elevator uneven with the floor

  • Person caught in moving escalator

  • Person caught in elevator door

  • Elevator shaft falls

Negligent Security

Property owners have a legal obligation to maintain reasonably safe premises for tenants, guests, and other visitors.

Examples of sufficient security measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Proper lighting

  • Locks

  • Security gates

  • Video surveillance

  • Security personnel

When security standards are not upheld, sexual assault, muggings, and other violent attacks can leave victims with catastrophic injuries. If you were attacked on someone else’s property due to lax safety measures, you may be entitled to compensation for medical treatment and lost wages.

Pursuing a Premises Liability Case

In order to have a valid premises liability case, you first need to prove that you were on the premises lawfully. An illegal trespasser who was injured on someone else’s property will not be able to seek damages against the property owner. Lawful occupation of a premises includes being a legal tenant, being invited to the property by a legal tenant, or being hired to work on the property.

Lawful occupants will also need to prove the property owner’s negligence caused the unsafe condition or defect that led to the injury. Lastly, the lawful occupant will need to prove that the unsafe condition on the property was a major factor in causing their injury.

Going through this process may sound intimidating, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our New York City premises liability attorneys can help you recover the compensation you deserve. We’ll begin an investigation to determine how long the unsafe condition existed, if anyone else had a similar accident in the same location, and whether the issue is a building code violation. We work aggressively to help clients pursue compensation against irresponsible property owners.

If you have been injured on someone else’s unsafe property, contact Silbowitz, Garafola, Silbowitz, Schatz & Frederick, LLP at (646) 681-7055 for a consultation today.

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