January 9, 2020

Proving Premises Liability in New York City

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

Victims injured on another’s property face many legal challenges when pursuing a recovery of their damages. Regardless of the type of accident that occurs and the unique circumstances inherent to your case you must be able to prove several essential legal elements. These elements will exist for all types of premises liability claims in New York City, including claims filed on the basis of any of the following:

Premises liability law requires premises owners to uphold a duty to keep guests free from preventable harm while on their property. As proving that a premises owner is responsible for your accident and liable for your damages is such a difficult and unique challenge during these claims, working with seasoned New York City premises liability attorneys is of the utmost importance.

Burden of Proof in Premises Liability Claims

Generally, victims injured on someone else’s property will need to prove that they suffered harm as the result of the owner’s negligence. An owner is negligent if they fail to uphold their duty to exercise reasonable care to keep guests and visitors safe from preventable harm. Under New York law, victims must prove their claim by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Simply put, this means you must demonstrate that the premises owner was “more likely than not” responsible for causing your injury.

At Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek, we are prepared to clearly present all critical components of your claim to ensure that you recover full and fair compensation from an at-fault premises owner. While cases will vary depending on the unique facts and circumstances at hand, our firm generally focuses on specific points when establishing proof of the essential elements.

What elements exist in a premises liability case?

Premises owners will be held liable for victims’ damages under premises liability law if (1) an owner owed a legal duty to a victim and (2) they breached this duty. In order to establish these two main elements, you must prove the following:

  • The defendant owned the property – premises owners are those who legally “possess” a property, including owners of private residences and commercial premises such as businesses. “Possession” only means occupying or controlling a property, not whether an owner is present at the time of an injury.
  • You were lawfully on the property – including whether the property was open to the public, you were invited by the owner, or you were hired to work on the property by the owner. Certain exceptions may exist in cases of trespassing, including cases involving young children.
  • Hazardous conditions existed – proving this element will vary from case to case. For example, slippery or uneven floors, unsafe chemicals, insufficient lighting, negligent security, among others, can be considered potentially dangerous conditions.
  • Premises owners were negligent in dealing with hazardous conditions – premises owners knew, or should have known, about unsafe conditions and failed to address them. Proving negligence and a failure to uphold a duty to keep guests safe can be accomplished in different ways, particularly as they relate to the unique situation at hand. Examples include:
  • Premises owners did not take reasonable steps to correct potential dangers, including the hiring of security in high-crime areas or in businesses prone to disputes and assaults.
  • Premises owners did not fix hazards.
  • Premises owners repaired hazards, but in a way that was insufficient or worse.
  • Premises owners failed to warn guests of a potential hazard – examples include marking off an area or using signs to warn visitors.
  • Negligence resulted in your injury – the premises owner’s negligence “more likely than not” caused your injury or illness. In some situations, premises owners may defend themselves by alleging “comparative fault,” which means that they claim a victim is partially at fault for causing an accident. If courts agree, this can reduce a victim’s recovery.

Once these legal elements have been established, our firm will work to demonstrate the extent of your damages and fight for a full and fair recovery. Compensation may include your past and future medical expenses, lost work wages and future earnings, emotional damages, and other relevant losses resulting from your injury. If and when premises owners dispute claims or defend themselves by alleging that you can be held entirely or partially at fault for causing an accident, our attorneys are prepared to fight aggressively on your behalf.

If you would like to learn more about the elements of a New York City premises liability claim – or if you wish to discuss your case with a member of our legal team – schedule a free initial consultation with a New York City personal injury lawyer from Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek today.