According to Injury Facts®, falls accounted for 21% of preventable deaths and 33% of nonfatal injuries in the United States in 2020. Commercial and residential property owners in Rochester and throughout New York State have a duty of care to ensure their property is free of dangerous conditions that could cause harm. Premises liability claims arise when a visitor suffers an injury due to unsafe conditions or negligence on the part of the property owner or manager. Whether it’s a fall on an icy sidewalk or an accident at a construction site, our firm is here to help. If you’ve been injured in a slip and fall or another type of accident due to dangerous property conditions, contact a lawyer from Lacy Katzen LLP for a free initial consultation.
Slip and Fall Lawyer | Representing Clients Throughout Rochester, New York
Lacy Katzen LLP handles premises liability claims stemming from a wide range of incidents, including the following:
- Icy parking lots and sidewalks
- Exposed wires or hoses
- Uneven surfaces, such as buckled concrete or broken tile
- Exposed holes, including potholes
- Stairs that are loose, uneven or in disrepair
- Steps that are poorly marked
- Unstable railings
- Loose, torn, or buckled carpeting
- Wet, dirty, or littered floors
- Poorly lit stairways, walkways, or sidewalks
Common Injuries Sustained in Slip/Trip and Fall Accidents
Premises liability claims encompass a broad spectrum of injuries. Common injuries resulting from these accidents include:
- Fractures and Broken Bones: Especially common are wrist, arm, ankle, and hip fractures.
- Sprains and Strains: Often resulting from the body’s abrupt twist or attempt to catch oneself during a fall.
- Head Injuries: These can range from mild concussions to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).
- Spinal Cord and Back Injuries: These can include herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, or even spinal cord damage.
- Cuts and Abrasions: These typically occur on the arms, legs, and head, depending on how the person landed.
- Bruises and Contusions: These injuries can appear on various parts of the body that come in contact with the ground or objects during a fall.
- Shoulder Injuries: Such as dislocations or “brachial plexus injuries,” which are caused by the network of nerves between the neck and shoulder being stretched or torn.
- Knee Damage: Including torn ligaments, meniscus tears, or even dislocation.
- Wrist and Hand Injuries: Such as sprains, strains, and fractures, often from trying to break a fall.
- Hip Fractures: These injuries are particularly common among the elderly and can have serious long-term consequences.
The Burden of Proof in a Premises Liability Claim
For a successful premises liability claim, the injured party (plaintiff) must prove certain elements:
- Duty of Care: It must be established that the property owner or manager owed a duty of care to the injured party.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must show that the property owner or manager breached this duty by failing to maintain safe conditions.
- Causation: There should be a direct link between the breach of duty and the injury. The injury should have been foreseeable.
- Damages: Actual harm or injury must have occurred, whether it’s physical, emotional, or financial.
In a nutshell, if you’re injured due to a negligent property owner’s oversight, you may be entitled to compensation. However, the burden of proving negligence rests with you.
Other Key Considerations in Premises Liability Claims
It is important to understand that not every injury will give rise to a claim. The injury must be directly related to the negligence of another. New York State Law sets forth that if you are injured while legally on another person’s property, the party who controls the property may be liable for injuries if they have neglected their duty of care by not maintaining the property in a reasonably safe condition. This does not mean that the property has to be perfect. Rather, the property owner must act reasonably under the circumstances. For example, a property owner does not have a duty to clear snow and ice during a storm, even though the icy conditions may pose a danger. Instead, the property owner should clear the snow and ice within a reasonable amount of time after the storm ends. What is reasonable will depend upon many factors including the amount of snow and ice that has fallen and the time of day when the storm ended. Properly evaluating whether the facts and circumstances of each situation might give rise to a claim calls for an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer.
Determining who is responsible for a dangerous property can also be complex because the controlling party is not always the property owner. It may be a tenant, property manager, or on-site construction company. Lacy Katzen LLP’s personal injury attorneys will review the circumstances of the incident and the nature of the injuries to determine if you have a slip and fall case. If liability can be established, you may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering related to your injury. The following factors should be considered in a slip and fall claim:
- Were you on the property lawfully?
- Did the controlling party cause or create an unsafe condition resulting in the injury?
- Was the controlling party aware of a hazardous condition, yet failed to address the situation?
- Were reasonable steps taken to maintain the property?
- Did the person who was injured have any fault in the situation? Failing to take reasonable steps toward your own safety will be considered. For example, you have an obligation to watch where you are going and to take reasonable steps to avoid obviously dangerous conditions if possible.
What to Do After a Slip, Trip and Fall Accident in the Rochester Area
If you are able to do so, report the incident to the owner or controlling party right away. Be sure to be courteous and avoid any confrontation. If you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Injuries that appear mild at the outset may be more serious than you realize. Be sure to tell the provider how, where and when you were injured.
After receiving medical care, please take the following steps:
- It is very important to document the scene with photos. Have someone take photos of the hazardous conditions that caused your injury.
- If possible, gather contact information from any witnesses to the incident. Don’t assume a property manager will document witnesses that could help establish their fault.
- Limit who you talk to about the accident and your injuries. Do not speak to any investigator representing the property owner or their insurance company; they represent the other side. Do not provide a recorded or signed statement. After reporting the incident to the property owner, further communications should occur through your slip and fall accident lawyer.
- Retain all items of clothing you wore at the time of the incident, including footwear; this may prove to be evidence later.
- Follow the advice of your medical provider. Get all recommended treatment and follow restrictions. Doing too much or returning to work too soon is not only potentially bad for your health it could also undermine your claim.
Statutes of Limitations in New York for Premises Liability Claims
In New York, the time frame to file a premises liability claim varies based on the specific circumstances:
- Personal Injury: You generally have three years from the date of the injury.
- Wrongful Death: If death results from the injury, the family has two years from the date of death to file a claim.
- Claims against Government Entities: If the injury occurred on government property or due to government negligence, the timeline might be shorter, often requiring notice within 90 days and a claim within a year.
It’s crucial to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure you don’t miss these deadlines. Missing the statute of limitations deadline can bar you from pursuing a claim entirely.
Contact a New York Slip and Fall Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property, you need to seek competent legal counsel to understand your rights and the potential for compensation. Your safety, health, and rights matter. Contact a Rochester personal injury lawyer from Lacy Katzen LLP today for a free initial consultation.