How Long Does a Hazard Need to Be Present for a Property Owner or Other Responsible Party to Be Found Liable?
If you are injured on a property due to negligence of another in failing to address a known hazard, you may be able to pursue monetary compensation for each and every type of damage you sustained. There is not a specific length of time a hazard must be present to find a property owner or other party liable for resulting injuries. The law states that it must exist for a “reasonable” time.
Examples of Liability You Can Include in Your Claim
The length of time a danger or hazard must exist for a defendant to be responsible for it depends upon the circumstances. It would not be reasonable to expect a grocery store manager to clean up every liquid that spills in an aisle immediately. It is reasonable, however, to expect them to address it promptly by cleaning up the mess and posting a “wet floor” sign. The longer the length of the time a spill is left unattended the more likely it is that the store would be found to be negligent.
Similarly, it may not be reasonable to hold a property owner or other party accountable for slippery walkways if you fall just a few minutes after the end of a snow storm. However, in many instances depending on the time of day a property owner can be held accountable if they failed to de-ice or shovel snow for more than 4 hours after the storm has ended. Not all circumstances are the same and you are advised to contact an experienced attorney to determine the property owner’s duty in your case.
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Evidence You Can Use to Show a Property Owner Was Aware of a Hazard and Didn’t Fix It
Establishing fault is crucial to any personal injury case, including premises liability. To prove a property owner or other party is financially responsible for your losses, one of the following must be true:
- The property owner or other liable party must have caused the hazard, such as a broken railing, torn carpet, slippery floor, or broken sidewalk.
- The owner or other responsible party, such as a tenant or property manager, must have been aware of the problem and not taken sufficient steps to address it.
- The property owner or other responsible party should have known of the hazard because any “reasonable” person would have recognized it and removed the threat.
Proving fault may seem simple, but it is not always easy. A careful and thorough investigation is necessary to gather evidence, including maintenance records, photographs of the scene, and eyewitness testimonies from staff, patrons, or contractors.
What if the At-Fault Party Denies Fault?
You must also be prepared for the at-fault party to deny fault and, potentially, argue that the accident was the result of your own fault in failing to see the dangerous condition and avoid it. A qualified and experienced lawyer will be prepared to deal with all defenses made by the at-fault party.
In some instances, the property owner or other party will deny knowing about the condition which caused your accident. In a careful investigation, we may gather evidence that will prove that the hazard was present long enough to reasonably expect the property owner or other party to have known about it. For example, if the condition was one that occurred over a long time such as a worn-away step surface, it is difficult for the property owner or other party to have not seen or known of the condition.
Other ways to show that a condition was long-standing include a history of maintenance requests, prior accidents or complaints, video footage, prior repair records, photographs, and witness testimony.
If You Weren’t Warned, You Can Sue
It is important to note property owners, managers, tenants, and other parties do not necessarily have to fix a dangerous or defective condition immediately. Once they learn about a condition, New York law requires that they repair the condition in a reasonable amount of time under the circumstances.
In the meantime, however, the law requires that these parties take appropriate action to warn the public of the existence of the dangerous condition by taking such actions as posting warning signs or closing off the dangerous area until a repair can be made.
Types of Hazards that Can Cause Physical Injury and that You Can Sue For
Icy walkways, wet floors, broken steps or potholes, malfunctioning elevators, asbestos-laden apartments, and other environmental hazards cause millions of injuries every year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), unintentional injuries account for nearly 30 million emergency room visits annually in the United States. Many of these injuries are severe, requiring extensive medical care and months or even years of recovery time. Some, tragically, are fatal.
There is a broad array of hazards that can cause trips and falls and other incidents. Some of the most common types of dangers include broken or missing stairs or railings, mislaid tools, holes in floors or loose floorboards, torn carpet or unsecured rugs, and wet or slippery floors or walkways.
This list is not comprehensive. Other threats, such as unfenced backyard swimming pools, can also fall under the premises liability category, as can environmental hazards like mold, lead paint, and asbestos. If you have suffered a grievous injury or severe illness because of a property owner’s negligence, a lawyer can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
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Is It Worth It to Hire a Lawyer for Additional Support?
If you have suffered a grievous injury because of a property owner or other party’s failure to address a hazard in a reasonable time, speak to a qualified and experienced lawyer to learn about your rights. The lawyers at Dansker & Aspromonte Associates have been fighting for victims of premises liability accidents since 1988. We can perform a careful and thorough investigation of your accident, locate and preserve evidence of negligence and build a strong claim for maximum compensation so that you can focus on your own recovery. You do not have to go through this difficult time alone. A lawyer with our firm can help you pursue fair compensation.
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Contact Our Attorneys for Help Today
Contact the legal advocates at Dansker & Aspromonte Associates for more information. Our team is dedicated to representing injury victims just like you. Call us for a free consultation today.
If we agree to accept your case, you will not be required to pay us any money upfront. We only earn a fee when you recover compensation. Even if you are not sure whether you have a strong claim, call us. Don’t delay, however, because if you fail to bring your claim by the applicable deadlines, you could be forever prevented from recovering the compensation you deserve.
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