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new york city premises liability lawsuits

A premise liability lawsuit is the means provided by the justice system to address injuries caused by property-related accidents, for which the injured party is not to blame. This type of lawsuit allows accident victims to receive compensation for damages that may include medical bills, lost wages, disability, and pain and suffering.

6 Most Common Premises Liability Lawsuits in New York City

1. Slip and Fall Accidents

Falls are the leading cause of death from unintentional injuries for those 45 years of age and up. According to the New York State Department of Health, fall-related injuries are also the No. 1 cause of injury hospitalizations for adults 25 years and older as well as children up to age 14.

And no wonder, they have been tied to serious injuries including brain trauma. Each year, the hospitalization expense alone in New York State amounts to $1.3 billion.

Daily Impact of Slip and Fall Accidents in NY

  • Two older New York residents lose their lives.
  • 140 older New Yorkers are admitted to a hospital.
  • 223 older New Yorkers seek Emergency Department care.

Common Injuries From Slip and Fall Accidents

A significant number of slip and fall hazards are within the landlord or building owner’s realm of responsibility. If he or she knew the problem existed, negligence may be involved. These hazards include:

  • Slippery or inconsistent flooring surfaces
  • Unstable furniture
  • Faulty stairs, railings or grab bars
  • Poor lighting
  • Bathrooms that are not easily accessible
  • Icy, broken, or uneven sidewalks or walkways
  • Unposted construction dangers
  • Wet floors including those recently washed
  • Leaks that create a slipping hazard

2. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that kills more than 400 Americans a year in unintentional incidents not related to fires, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In other national stats, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room and over 4,000 are hospitalized each year from what CDC calls a silent killer.

Carbon monoxide lawsuits occur most frequently during winter months, when ventilation within buildings is less optimal due to closed windows and doors. The problem can stem from unvented furnaces, clogged chimneys, and other woes associated with the burning of fossil fuel. 

This is a common issue among New York City residents, where, although every home is required by law to have a working carbon monoxide detector, many landlords neglect to install or maintain them. When there is no properly working detector and someone becomes ill, that can be grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit. 

Fast Facts on Carbon Monoxide

  • Carbon monoxide remains a common cause of poisoning despite three decades of slow decline statewide.
  • More than 400 NYC residents were hospitalized with CO poisoning between 2000 and 2005. 
  • Thirty NYC residents lost their lives to carbon monoxide poisoning between 2000 to 2005.
  • CO detectors that were missing or failed to sound an alarm represented an average of 145 carbon monoxide incidents a year (between 2014-2016). 

3. Construction Accidents

New York City is experiencing a construction explosion, and while all this activity is good for the economy, it also creates a certain degree of danger. Workers and pedestrians alike can succumb to any of the following construction-related hazards:

  • Collapse of scaffolding
  • Flying debris
  • Electrocution
  • Falls, sometimes from significant heights due to excavation.

According to city records, construction accidents totaled 565 in 2019. The highest number of cases occurred in Manhattan with 312, followed by Brooklyn with 132.

It is impossible to know how many of these incidents involve pedestrians, but according to the 

New York Post, 59 people were struck by falling debris at NYC construction sites between 2010 and 2015. A pedestrian was killed in 2015 when struck by flying plywood on W. 12th St.

4. Elevator Accidents

While not nearly as common as slip and fall accidents, elevator mishaps are often associated with city living. And when accidents happen, they can be deadly. 

In August 2019, an elevator crushed a 30-year-old man to death on Manhattan’s East Side. And that is not the only headline declaring elevator-related tragedy. In 2011, an elevator accident killed a 44 year-old woman in Midtown. In 2016, a 25-year-old man was crushed by an elevator on the Lower East Side.

Yet the New York City Department of Buildings claims that the ~71,000 elevators in the city remain among the safest modes of transportation. And, according to the department’s most recent stats, injuries dramatically decreased in a 10-year span from 105 in 2007 to 51 in 2015. 

Still, to prevent tragedy, New York City requires at least two safety inspections each year per elevator.  The owner is required to perform one of these inspections annually and a more intensive inspection every five years.

According to news reports, though, there is much room for improvement. An inspection by NBC I-Team found more than 2,000 NYC elevators passed inspection only to be issued violations a short time later. Some of these elevator violations came within days after a successful private company inspection, the January 2020 report says.

If an owner neglects elevator maintenance and someone is hurt, this could be valid grounds for filing a premises liability lawsuit.

5. Fire Injuries and Death

In 2018 alone, the Fire Department of the City of New York reported 27,053 structural fires citywide. Among these there are no doubt fires caused by a landlord or building owner’s negligence.

According to Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro, 66 civilians died as a result of fires in 2019. This was a 25-percent reduction from 2018 when fires claimed 88 lives. Most of the fatal fires (15) proved to be electrical in nature, and electrical issues are often something a landlord or building owner has control over. 

The city’s fire code requires that property owners maintain a safe structure, complete with smoke detectors and readily available exit ways. Yet a common violation in NYC is failure to regularly inspect fire safety systems like sprinklers. 

Of particular concern are illegal apartments, which the city has been cracking down on due to the extreme danger of tenants getting trapped inside without proper egress.

When a property owner ignores the code and tragedy results, the victim can pursue legal action.

6. Dog Bites

With an estimated 500,000 dogs owned in New York, there’s bound to be an occasional dog bite incident. In fact, the New York City Health Department reports there are thousands of dog bites each year among NYC residents, many involving children. 

Average annual dog bite statistics show the following occurs each year due to dog bites in New York:

  1. 6,028 emergency department visits
  2. 315 inpatient hospitalizations 

Though hospitalizations remained stable, ER visits spiked during the seven-year span from 2007 to 2014 with a 12-percent increase from dog bites. Staten Island had the highest rate of reported dog bites (62.3 per 100,000) in 2014, but also the highest percentage of the population owning one or more dogs.

Severe dog bites can result in more than stitches or staples. They can lead to any of the following:

  • Bone fracture
  • Joint dislocation
  • Surgery
  • Hospitalization

Those hurt by a property owner’s dog can sue under the premises liability law for any emotional or physical trauma experienced.

Winning a Premises Liability Lawsuit

A premises liability claim is a type of personal injury lawsuit. In New York, the statute of limitations for most personal injury actions is three years. The clock starts on the date the injury occurred and runs to the time the lawsuit is filed in civil court.

Like any personal injury matter, the case can eventually go before a judge and jury if it is not settled first between the victim, his lawyer, and the opposing side. The elements of a premises liability lawsuit will likely include:

  • Proof of a defective condition that led to injury. (An example might be gaping hole in the ground that the property owner already knew of and had time to fix.)
  • The defect cannot be trivial. (Too minor and a jury may not be inclined to award damages.) 
  • The owner must have had the opportunity to remedy the problem.

3 Ways to Strengthen a Premises Liability Case

  1.  Be able to provide an attorney with details of the incident including the defective condition, time of day, weather conditions, and what you were doing at the time of the accident. 
  2. Pictures of the scene are worth 1,000 words. Take many pictures, and ask authorities for copies of any pictures they take of the scene as well.
  3. Eyewitness accounts are powerful tools to build a case. Ask people who witnessed the accident if they would be willing to share a testimonial.

An experienced premises liability attorney can also help clients gather evidence, eyewitness accounts, medical records, police documents and more. Their experience with gathering the right information to build and strengthen a winning case is invaluable to the vast majority of injured clients.

Average Settlement Amounts for Premises Liability Cases in NY

In New York, those injured do not always get the full amount they are seeking because of an aspect of the law known as comparative negligence

The property owner’s attorney often will claim that the injured party shared responsibility for the accident. This may be because of a cell phone or other distraction. Or perhaps the injured party did not have permission to be on the premises.

The percentage of responsibility given to the injured party is then deducted from the award.

Just how much a victim might receive for his case often depends on the following:

  • severity of the injury
  • medical bills
  • loss of income 
  • pain and suffering 
  • the county where the accident took place

This is all going to vary case by case but as a rough estimate, awards for a slip and fall accident can range from $1,000 to six-digits. Dog bite cases have been known to bring in as much as $1 million. A burn injury from a fire, scalding water, or another premises liability issue can draw a similar amount.

New York has no limits placed on the pain and suffering one can endure from a premises liability incident. Generally speaking, the more pain and suffering a client experiences, the more compensation received upon winning. This has the potential to produce larger settlements for premises liability cases.

Contact a New York Premises Liability Lawyer

If you have been injured and believe the property owner was to blame, the first step should be consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney. There are too many legal variables to try to navigate the legal waters alone. An experienced lawyer will also ensure that you receive top compensation for your injury. 

Call 855-468-7626 for a free consultation with a premises liability attorney in New York’s Hudson Valley, Manhattan, the Bronx, or the Inwood-Washington Heights region.