New York City Slip and Fall Lawyer Pursing Compensation for Victims Across the Five Boroughs
When people say they slipped or tripped, it might not sound that serious. How many times have you stubbed your toe or stumbled and kept on walking? It happens often without incident, but you can suffer very serious injuries if you land too hard or on the wrong spot on your body. The O’Connor Law Firm can help you pursue the money you need to pay for medical bills or cover your wages while you are recovering and cannot work. I have been a New York City slip and fall attorney for more than 20 years and successfully litigated countless premises liability cases involving slip-and-fall accidents.
When Might Someone Else Be Liable For Your Slip Or Trip?
The reality is that some falls are not compensable, because they resulted solely from inattention or clumsiness. How do you know when a property owner, operator or the City of New York may be liable for your injuries? Here are a few possible examples:
- Uneven or cracked sidewalks
- Inadequate outdoor lighting
- Improper removal of snow and ice
- No warning signs on wet floors in lobbies or hallways
- Debris in a walkway
- Poorly maintained staircases
- Loose carpet or floorboards
- Too much floor wax or polish
- No handrails in potentially hazardous areas
- Uneven transitions between flooring
- Boxes or other obstacles in an aisle
- Surfaces around a pool without proper “no skid” treatment
What If I Was Partially At Fault For My Slip and Fall Accident?
New York is a comparative negligence state. This means that you are entitled to recover damages for your injuries, but only to the extent that your injuries were caused by someone else.
For example, if you slipped and fell in a supermarket, but there was evidence that you were looking at your smartphone and not paying attention to a puddle next to a freezer, a jury may find that you were partially at fault for the accident even though the supermarket was also negligent. So, if the jury determines your case is worth $100,000, and you are found 50% at fault, you would be entitled to recover 50% of the verdict, or $50,000. This is the percentage of fault attributable to the defendant.
Even if you are 90% or more at fault in New York, you would still be entitled to recovery the remaining 10% of the verdict. In some states, you may not recover anything if you are even just 1% at fault for an accident.
Proving A Slip and Fall Case
How do you prove a slip and fall case was caused by the property owner’s negligence? First, you need to establish that a dangerous condition caused your accident. Once you have established a dangerous condition, you still must prove the property owner or lessee either caused and created the dangerous condition or knew or should have known about the condition and failed to fix it within a reasonable time prior to your accident.
Actual or Constructive Notice
Evidence of prior complaints will establish actual notice. Photos of the dangerous condition are sufficient to permit a jury to determine whether the condition appears to have existed for such a period of time that the property owner “should have known” about the condition. For example, if a puddle of water in a supermarket aisle has many shopping cart wheel marks running through it with streaks running down the aisle, this could be sufficient for a jury to determine there was constructive notice of the condition.
At The O’Connor Law Firm, we investigate all types of slip and fall accidents as early as possible as evidence may be lost or destroyed. Sometimes, we will retain experts to visit an accident location to take photographs and measurements as this information may be necessary to establish both a dangerous condition and constructive notice. Experts are also helpful in determining whether a property owner violated local or state building codes which also assists in establishing the property owner’s negligence.
Common Insurance Company Arguments and Defenses in Slip and Fall Cases
Insurance companies have one goal in mind – to protect themselves and their money. They have no desire to help you or your family. They will stop at nothing to blame you for your accident. In a slip and fall case, insurance companies will dispute every aspect of your case. Here are several common arguments and defenses used by insurance companies:
De Minimis Defect or Trivial Defect
Insurance companies will argue that the alleged defect was simply not dangerous at all, but instead, a de minimis defect. It has also been called the “trivial defect” doctrine. This defense often appears in cases with a cracked or uneven floor. The argument is that the raise or crack is too small to have caused the accident and that the floor was still “reasonably safe.”
The courts in New York have not established a set standard based solely on the size or dimensions of the condition. Instead, the courts look to the specific facts of each individual case, including the dimensions of the condition and the time, place and circumstance of the accident under a “totality of the circumstances” standard.
This is why it is extremely important to report your accident and either take photos of the condition or have someone take photos for you. Oftentimes, courts will leave the question of whether a condition is dangerous to a jury as long as there is some evidence for the jury to review. It is also important to determine factors such as the lighting at the time of the accident.
Open and Obvious Hazard
The opposite of the de minimis defect that is too small to have caused your accident is the “open and obvious hazard.” Insurance companies will try to dismiss your case by arguing that even though the condition was dangerous, it was so open and so obvious that you should have seen the condition.
Insurance companies often claim the property owner owed no duty to you because the condition was there to be seen. Under the law, a condition is “open and obvious” when it is readily observable by the reasonable use of one’s senses.
There is some dispute as to the application of this defense. It is unsettled as to whether this defense can be used to dismiss a case in its entirety. However, it will always be relevant to the issue of comparative fault.
Slip and Fall Injuries
Some slip or trip and fall accidents may result in minor injuries, while other accidents can cause serious injuries. We have handled many serious injury cases caused by slip and fall accident, including:
- Broken bones and torn ligaments
- Head injuries, concussions and traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Shoulder and knee injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
These injuries can result in an extended period of rehabilitation, lost time from work and pain and suffering. An experienced slip and fall accident attorney can help you recover the damages you are entitled to, including lost wages, medical and hospital expenses, and compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Unsure If You Have A Case? Talk to A Lawyer At No Cost To You.
If you were injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, we can help you determine if you have a claim for compensation. We offer a free case review. Please call our offices at 212-566-4868 or 718-948-3500 or send us an email and schedule your free initial consultation. I can travel to meet you whether you live in the Bronx or Staten Island.