When you visit someone else’s land you should expect to be kept safe. For example, a property owner should warn you of any potential hazard and fix it as soon as possible. If they do not take these actions, they can be considered negligent and responsible for your injuries.
To learn more about property owner responsibilities in a Westchester slip and fall, reach out to Tomkiel & Tomkiel. Our skilled slip and fall lawyers can help you understand your rights and then get to work to protect them.
Westchester Property Owner Responsibilities
Premises liability refers to the responsibility of an owner or possessor of a property to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition and to warn people of any hidden dangers. This responsibility applies to buildings and structures on the land, including the interior spaces, rooms, hallways stairways, etc. This responsibility requires owners and possessors to inspect the property for dangerous conditions. For example, stairways should have handrails, and stairs and steps should not be broken or defective.
Commercial establishments and other premises that are open to the public like shopping centers, stores, and movie theaters must make sure that the property is safe during the times that people are expected to be there. Public property refers to property that is owned by the government, such as parks, roadways, and government buildings. In most municipalities in Westchester, the government may be sued for a dangerous condition on public property.
Landlords are generally not liable for the criminal actions of third parties or trespassers. However, an exception to that rule is when the landlord creates a condition that is inviting to criminal behavior, or if the landlord knows of the likelihood of criminal behavior and fails to take reasonable measures to limit it. For example, if a landlord knows that criminals keep dumping trash in the hallways of an apartment building and does nothing to curtail the problem, the landlord may be responsible to someone who is injured by it.
How Can Notice Impact a Slip and Fall Case?
For a property owner to be liable for a slip and fall, they must have notice of the condition. In slip and fall cases, notice refers to knowledge of the dangerous condition. There are two types of notice, actual and constructive. Actual notice means the responsible party was aware of the dangerous condition or caused it. For example, if super of a building knows there is a broken step. Constructive notice is where there is no direct evidence that the responsible party knew of the dangerous condition, but the condition existed long enough that a reasonable landowner should have discovered it and have had time to fix it. For example, pavement that has been broken for several months.
The government can also be sued for a slip and fall. However, the issue of notice is handled differently. Most municipalities may only be sued if they received prior written notice of the dangerous condition. There are exceptions where the municipality caused the danger, but most municipalities will not be held liable for the existence of a dangerous condition like a broken step or defective pavement unless they had received prior written notice of the defect. Prior means before the accident. And written means that it was delivered in writing to the municipality’s designated agent. Getting photographs of the area in question can help prove notice. By seeing what the dangerous condition looks like, we can often determine what caused it and whether it had been present for an unreasonable length of time before it caused injury.
Westchester is a comparative negligence jurisdiction. This means that the jury is asked to compare the reasonableness of both the plaintiff and the defendant’s behavior to determine the percentage of fault between them. For example, if a landowner is only 75 percent responsible, the injured party may only recover 75 percent of the total damages from that landowner.
In a slip and fall case, the defense attorneys for the insurance company will generally allege that the injured person could have been more careful, and will ask the jury to reduce the percentage of fault against the defendant landowner. This is why it is very important to gather evidence at the scene such as photographs, and accident reports demonstrating how the accident happened.
Ask An Attorney About Property Owner Responsibilities in a Westchester Slip and Fall
Property owners are responsible for keeping their land safe. When they fail to do so and someone is injured as a result, they can be held liable. If you were injured on someone else’s land, call Tomkiel & Tomkiel to discuss property owner responsibilities in a Westchester slip and fall. Reach out today for a free consultation.