Premises Liability Cases in New York: When Property Owners Are Responsible for Your Injury

Premises Liability Cases in New York: When Property Owners Are Responsible for Your Injury

Premises liability incidents, particularly slip-and-fall accidents, can have devastating outcomes for victims. One out of five falls causes a serious injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And many of those who fall don’t survive. Statistics reveal that 44,686 people died in falls in 2021.

If you’ve hurt yourself on someone else’s property and wonder whether you have a premises liability case, this guide is for you. Below, a New York City premises lawyer explains everything you need to know.

When Are Property Owners Liable for Injuries?

Just because you’ve hurt yourself on someone’s property doesn’t automatically mean the property owner is liable. To establish liability, four elements must exist: duty of care, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Next, we will go over what each of these elements means in more detail.

Duty of Care

The property owner is only liable for your injuries if they owed you a duty of care. In premises liability cases, that means they had a duty to keep their property safe for visitors.

Store owners, for instance, must keep the aisles clean so customers don’t fall in a spill. Property owners have a duty to keep sidewalks, staircases, and lighting in good repair.

Breach of Duty

In a premises liability case, “breach of duty” means the property owner knew about (or should have known about) a hazard but failed to fix it.

For instance, suppose that Sam owns a mechanic’s shop. One of his mechanics walks into the waiting area wearing oil-covered shoes. Sam knows about this and intends to clean the mess up, but a phone call distracts him before he can attend to it.

Not long after, a customer walks in and promptly wipes out on the oily floor. The customer can hold Sam liable because he failed to remedy the hazardous conditions.


Next, you must prove the property owner’s negligence and breach of duty caused your accident. This can be tougher than it sounds. The main reason is that property owners will naturally try to minimize their liability to avoid paying you.

Property owners might erase camera footage of the incident, for instance, or say they don’t have video footage when they really do. They might swiftly clean up the hazard, tell employees to keep quiet, and try to sweep the incident under the rug.

This is why you must hire a good personal injury lawyer to take your case. Without one, proving causation can be nearly impossible.


Lastly, you will have to prove that the accident caused you compensable damages. Your damages might include medical expenses, lost wages, and costs to repair damaged property.

You can also sue for pain and suffering, which is the physical pain you experience because of the accident. Additionally, you may recover emotional distress damages, including:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Embarrassment and humiliation

Calculating damages for a premises liability case can be complicated, so it’s wise to have an NYC premises liability lawyer help you with this step.

Public vs. Private Property in Premises Liability Cases

It’s important to understand the difference between public and private property in premises liability cases. Public property is any property owned by the government, such as a park, public school, government office, and so on.

Private property is any property not owned by the government. This can include homes and land owned by individuals, as well as businesses (grocery stores, banks, retail shops, etc.).

If you hurt yourself on private property, you would make a claim against the person or entity that owns the property. But what if your accident happened on public property?

In this case, a public agency is probably liable. Exactly which agency you hold accountable will depend on where the accident took place. If you fell on the subway, for example, the New York City Transit Authority may be liable.

How Long Do You Have To Sue?

The answer to this question depends on where the accident occurred. If you had an accident on private property, New York State gives you three years from the date of the accident to sue. If someone died in the accident, you have just two years to file a wrongful death claim.

The statute of limitations is far shorter if the accident happened on public property. In New York, you have only one year and 90 days from the date of the accident to sue.

Additionally, you must file a notice of claim with the liable party before you can sue. A notice of claim notifies the party of your intent to file a lawsuit.

The liable party may now choose to negotiate if it thinks you have a valid case. If it refuses to negotiate, you can try to recover damages through a lawsuit.

Common Causes of Premises Liability Accidents

Premises Liability Accidents in Manhattan

Premises liability accidents can have quite a few causes. Often, such accidents happen when someone slips on a wet or dirty floor. Other causes include:

  • Loose carpet and damaged floors
  • Damaged staircases
  • Poor lighting
  • Lack of security
  • Malfunctioning elevators and escalators

Even dog bites can fall under premises liability. For instance, if your neighbor invites you into their yard and their vicious dog attacks you, you’d probably have a valid premises liability case.

Injuries Associated With Premises Liability Accidents

If you survive a premises liability accident with just a few bumps and bruises, consider yourself fortunate. Such accidents commonly cause serious injuries, including:

  • Head injuries and brain damage
  • Spinal damage
  • Paralysis
  • Multiple bone fractures
  • Organ damage
  • Pregnancy loss

If you suffered severe injuries like these, it may be comforting to know that a premises liability lawyer can help fully recover your damages. Your lawyer will identify the liable party, prove all elements of negligence, and negotiate for fair compensation on your behalf.

Call a Brooklyn Premises Liability Lawyer Now

Unsure whether you have a valid premises liability case? Need advice on how to choose the right premises liability attorney? Reach out to Ross & Hill at (718) 855-2324. Our lawyers treat victims with dignity and compassion, and we never charge a fee unless we can win your case for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many people go to the hospital because of falls?

About 800,000 people go to the emergency room annually because of falls. The majority require hospitalization because of a head injury or, for older people, a hip fracture.

How do you sue the city of New York?

To sue the city of New York, you must first file a notice of claim. You must then wait 30 days for the city to respond. If the city doesn’t provide a satisfactory response, you can sue. You have one year and 90 days from the date of the accident to do so.

What is assumption of risk in premises liability?

Assumption of risk is a legal defense that comes into play for certain premises liability cases. The defendant might invoke this defense, for instance, if they put up “no trespassing” signs around their land. They might also do so if the victim signed a waiver absolving the property owner of responsibility for any injuries.

How do you know if you have a good premises liability case?

You have a valid premises liability case if the following elements are true: The property owner had a duty of care to you, they breached this duty, the breach of duty caused your accident, and you suffered compensable damages.

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