Rosenbaum & Rosenbaum, P.C. | November 30, 2021 | Premises Liability
When you meet with an injury lawyer, you will have the chance to tell your story about your injuries. After listening to how your accident happened, the lawyer will evaluate your case.
Slip and fall accidents can present complex legal and factual issues. Merely proving the existence of the hazard that caused your slip will not suffice. You will need to show that the property owner or occupier acted negligently in allowing that hazard.
Here are some factors that go into an honest evaluation of a New York City slip and fall case.
Negligence Law and Slip and Fall Accidents
Everyone must exercise reasonable care to avoid harming others. This duty applies when you drive a car, practice your profession, or open your premises to guests. When you fail to exercise reasonable care and injure someone, you could get sued for negligence.
Not all slip and fall accidents can support an injury claim. If your injuries did not result from a person’s or company’s negligence, you probably could not pursue injury compensation.
Negligence requires proof of four elements in New York:
Property owners owe a duty of care to invitees. Invitees include:
- Members of the public (if the premises are open to the public)
This means that a property owner in New York owes you a duty of care as long as you were lawfully on the premises.
Invitees do not include trespassers. If you entered the premises without permission, the duty of care does not apply to you. Similarly, if the owner or occupier asked you to leave, the duty of care no longer covers you.
Your status as an invitee can change depending on your location on the premises. A restaurant customer might be an invitee in the dining room but a trespasser in the kitchen or behind the bar.
A breach happens when the owner or occupier fails to exercise reasonable care, and as a result, you get injured.
A breach can happen when the owner or occupier fails to take reasonable measures to:
- Find hazards
- Investigate warnings of hazards
- Warn invitees of hazards
- Fix hazards
The breach occurs when the owner or occupier fails to exercise reasonable care. This means that some injuries will happen even though the owner or occupier acted reasonably.
If you slipped on a drink right after another customer spilled it, the bar owner probably did not have reasonable time to detect and clean up the spill.
The person or business responsible for the breach will depend on the location and nature of the hazard. A shop might commit a breach if it fails to clean up a spill in the shop. The shop’s landlord might commit a breach if a water pipe breaks and creates a frozen puddle in front of the shop.
In either case, you slipped and fell. But you might have a different target for your lawsuit depending on the facts of the case.
The breach must cause your injuries. Causation has two components:
The breach constitutes a cause-in-fact if it falls in the sequence of events that resulted in the injury.
For example, a business caused your injury when it ignored a customer’s warnings about its torn carpet, and you subsequently tripped on the torn carpet. But the company’s negligence regarding warnings about torn carpet would not constitute a cause-in-fact if you slipped in a puddle in the bathroom.
The breach must cause foreseeable injuries. This does not mean that the owner or occupier needs to foresee your specific injuries. Instead, it means that the breach must be of a type that could foreseeably cause injuries.
A small crack in the sidewalk might have caused you to crash on your skateboard. But your injuries might not have been foreseeable given the size of the crack.
If you sustained an injury, your damages include your medical bills, lost income, and diminishment in quality of life due to pain and suffering. Even a minimal injury will justify damages, although the value of the case might not justify a claim.
Factors in Evaluating a New York City Slip and Fall Case
When evaluating a premises liability case, a lawyer will first look to whether the owner or occupier of the premises acted negligently. If difficulties arise proving duty, breach, causation, or damages, the odds of winning the case — and the case’s value — drop.
Other factors a lawyer might consider include:
Amount of Damages
If you suffered minimal damages, you have a legal right to pursue compensation. But the effort and cost of pursuing compensation might not justify the amount you will recover.
Under New York law, a judge must reduce an accident victim’s compensation by their share of the fault for their injuries. If you played a role in your injuries, you could lose some, or all, of your compensation.
Suppose that a shop negligently allowed a puddle to sit in the middle of its floor. You spotted the puddle but tried to jump over it. You landed in the puddle and fell backward onto your back and head.
A jury could reasonably allocate a share of the fault to you. If the jury assigns 25% of the fault to you, the judge can only give you 75% of the jury’s damage award.
If you may have played a role in your injuries, a lawyer will consider that fact when evaluating your case.
Hiring a Lawyer After an Honest Evaluation
Good injury lawyers provide honest and objective legal advice. Rather than seeking any person who is willing to take on the case, you should take an honest evaluation of your case to heart. You should adjust your expectations for your case and work with a lawyer to overcome the issues in your case.