It’s no secret that walking in New York City can be tricky. During the warm months, parts of the sidewalk may be broken, and shopkeepers may put some of their products on display in the walking path. When the winter sets in, ice and snow make walking downright treacherous.
Of course, outside isn’t the only place you may slip, trip or fall. If store managers don’t keep the interior of their shops free of obstacles on the ground, injury may occur.
As a New York slip and fall lawyer, Elliot Ifraimoff has seen many of these sorts of cases. Too often, the lawsuit doesn’t move forward because the victim didn’t take the proper steps to validate their claim.
Here’s what you need to know about slip and fall cases in New York, and the pitfalls to avoid.
What Is a Slip and Fall?
Slip and fall is categorized under general premises liability law. Essentially, property owners and managers who have people regularly come onto their property have a duty to keep it clear of obstacles and other issues that could cause people to fall. These issues could include:
- Torn carpet
- Poor lighting
- Snow on a walkway
- Puddles in stores
It’s not enough for these elements to be present to warrant a slip and fall case. Though it can become more nuanced, in general an injury had to occur due to the issue. Further, the person or party responsible for the property must have known (or at least should have known) that the hazard existed.
For instance, say a store owner has had boxes on the ground for weeks that need to be unpacked. Someone trips over them, falling and breaking their nose. That could be grounds for a lawsuit, since the owner knew of the hazard and had a reasonable amount of time to remedy it.
However, say a customer spills a drink, and just moments later, someone slips and falls in the drink, injuring their arm. It could be argued that the store owner didn’t have time to know about and/or remedy the situation before the incident occurred. As such, they may not be held liable.
These are broad case examples. For you specific injury, it’s important to speak to New York slip and fall lawyer Elliot Ifraimoff to determine if you’re entitled to compensation.
New York’s Statute of Limitations
Like most other personal injury cases against individuals or private entities in New York, a slip and fall lawsuit must be filed within three years after the incident. A shorter time limit of 1 year and 90 days applies when a municipality is a defendant.
This time limit is called the statute of limitations. If you file a suit after that time, the court most likely won’t hear your case. There are some exceptions, but they are rare.
However, it’s not just injuries you could sue for. Say you fell on someone’s property, landing on your Rolex. The watch breaks, and you’re out a few thousand dollars. You have three years to file a property damage claim due to a slip and fall to recover the value of the watch.
Whether you’re injured or your property is damaged, the entire case will be based on whether the property owner acted negligently. As mentioned before, this means you must prove that the responsible party knew about the hazard, had a reasonable amount of time to remedy it, and still did nothing.
Arguments the Defendant Could Make
There are many ways a property owner or manager could defend themselves against a slip and fall lawsuit. For example:
- You were somewhere visitors generally aren’t allowed, such as a staff-only supply closet
- You weren’t being observant of your surroundings, and/or the hazard should have been obvious to you
- Your footwear was not appropriate for the situation, such as wearing flip flops while touring a factory
- Reasonable steps were taken to alert visitors of the hazard, such as “Wet Floor” signs
Moreover, there are specific reasons your case could be dismissed in court. It’s important that you work with a New York slip and fall lawyer to ensure these arguments won’t ruin your case:
- There was nothing provably wrong with the property;
- If there was something wrong, it was so minor that it couldn’t have caused an injury; and, perhaps most importantly,
- You can’t identify what defect actually caused your injury.
If you can’t actually point out what caused your injury, the judge will likely be less willing to move forward with your case. However, there are exceptions to this rule that your attorney will review with you.
All of these points add up to one doctrine: the burden of proof. It’s up to the injured party to prove the property owner acted negligently, which led to an injury. If you can’t do that, your case will likely be dismissed.
Speak to a New York Slip and Fall Lawyer Today
One of the best ways to make sure your case doesn’t get dismissed is to talk to an experienced New York slip and fall attorney like Elliot Ifraimoff. During the initial consultation, he can review the details of your case and discuss with you whether or not you have a case that can be won. Call today at (888) ASK-ELLIOT or contact us online for your free, no-obligation consultation.
The contents of this blog do not constitute legal advice. Please call an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case. Attorney advertising. Past results do not guarantee similar outcome.