Slip-and-Fall Accident Claims on Private vs. Public Property

Common Causes of Slip-and-Fall Accidents in New York

If you slipped and fell on a property other than your own, you may be able to seek compensation from the party responsible for that property. But you’ll first need to establish whether the property was public or private and understand how the answer affects your claim. 

Premises liability claims on private property are often more straightforward, but you could still be eligible for compensation if your accident occurred on public property. A slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC can help you navigate your claim regardless of where your accident occurred. 

Distinguishing Private vs. Public Property for a Slip-and-Fall Accident Claim

Private property belongs to anyone other than the local government or municipality. It may include:

  • Homes
  • Businesses
  • Apartment complexes
  • Parking lots

The majority of property in NYC is private. For reference, the city has over 3.4 million total housing units

Meanwhile, public property often includes:

  • Parks
  • Streets
  • Sidewalks
  • Playgrounds

The general public uses these areas. According to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, NYC has approximately 15,000 parcels of city-owned land

Before determining who is liable for your slip-and-fall accident, you must understand whether it occurred on private or public property. The easiest way to make this distinction is to consider who is responsible for maintaining the property. If you’re unsure, consult a slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC for assistance. 

Why the Location of Your Accident Matters

The main reason to understand whether your accident occurred on private or public property is that you’ll navigate a compensation claim differently depending on the answer. 

If your accident occurred on private property, you would submit a claim against the property owner. If it happened on public property, you would submit a claim against the local government, a process with its own set of rules and deadlines. 

Slip-and-fall claims on private property are often more successful because the victim can determine the property owner’s negligence in the claim. 

Proving Liability in a Slip-and-Fall Accident 

In both types of cases, you’ll need to prove that the party responsible for the property where your accident occurred was negligent in the accident. Here’s how to prove liability in an accident on private vs. public property. 

On Private Property

Just because an accident happened on private property does not automatically make the property owner liable for your injuries. With the help of an experienced legal professional, you will need to prove the following four conditions:

  • The property owner owed you a duty of care. 
  • The property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the hazard that led to your accident. 
  • The property owner failed to mitigate the hazard. 
  • You suffered an injury from the hazard. 

Property owners owe a different duty of care to different types of visitors. They owe the strongest duty of care to invitees, who enter the property for business purposes. But they also owe this duty to licensees, who enter the property for personal gain. 

If you’re unsure whether you were an invitee or licensee at the time of your accident, consult NYC’s slip-and-fall lawyers for assistance. 

On Public Property

If your accident occurred on public property, you’ll need to prove that the government entity responsible for the property knew about the hazard or should have known about it. Local governments have a responsibility to maintain public properties throughout the city, but they may claim the hazard that caused your accident did not exist long enough for the city to know about it. 

With the help of a slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC, you’ll need to collect evidence showing that the hazard was pre-existing. Maybe another resident filed a report asking the city to fix the hazard. Or, perhaps you can find video or photo evidence from before the accident showing that it had previously existed. 

You’ll also need to prove that you were not trespassing on the property at the time of the accident. Public property is not always open 24/7. If you were visiting a park or playground outside of its hours, the local government wouldn’t owe you a duty of care. 

Statute of Limitations in Public vs. Private Slip-and-Fall Claims 

Another important difference between private vs. public slip-and-fall accident claims is the statute of limitations. This legal term refers to the time you have to bring a claim against another party for a personal injury accident. 

In New York, the statute of limitations for premises liability claims on private property is three years from the date of the accident. 

However, your deadline is much shorter if you’re bringing a claim against the local or state government. You have 90 days from the date of the accident to notify the city of your intention to take legal action. Then, you have one year and 90 days from the accident date to file your lawsuit. 

Missing these deadlines could bar you from claiming compensation after your slip-and-fall accident. Consult a Manhattan slip-and-fall lawyer to verify which deadline applies to your case and start the process of holding the property owner or local government liable for your injuries. 

Contact a Slip-and-Fall Attorney in Brooklyn Today

Slip-and-fall accidents on public property are sometimes complex, and the local or state government doesn’t make it easy to secure compensation. However, it is possible; in 2022, New York City resolved 12,188 claims for a total of $1.5 billion, according to the Office of the Comptroller. 

Whether your accident occurred on public or private property, an experienced slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC can help you navigate your case effectively. 

At Ross & Hill, we provide knowledgeable guidance for slip-and-fall victims and others across a range of other personal injury cases. We can walk you through the steps necessary to seek compensation for your accident. You don’t need to worry about understanding the difference between accidents on public vs. private property; we’ll handle the whole process for you.

Contact us today at 718-855-2324 for a free consultation. Then, learn more about proving negligence in a slip-and-fall lawsuit.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is the difference between premises liability and a slip-and-fall claim? 

A slip-and-fall claim is a type of premises liability claim. However, premises liability also encompasses a range of other claims that happen on another person’s property, such as dog bite claims, negligent security claims, and elevator accidents. All such premises liability claims fall under the larger umbrella of personal injury.

What is the theory of liability for a slip and fall? 

The theory of liability for a slip and fall states that a property owner is liable in an accident where they knew or reasonably should have known about the hazard that caused the injury but did not take the proper steps to mitigate it. Property owners owe a duty of care to invitees and licensees but not to trespassers. 

Can you sue the government after a slip-and-fall accident on public property? 

You may be able to sue the government after a slip-and-fall accident on public property. The answer depends on whether the hazard that caused the accident had existed for some time, whether you have ample evidence to support your claim, and whether the government was responsible for maintaining the property where your accident occurred. 

You can learn more about your eligibility to sue by contacting a slip-and-fall lawyer in NYC for a consultation. 

Does comparative negligence apply in slip-and-fall cases? 

New York’s comparative negligence policy does apply in some slip-and-fall cases. Under this policy, accident victims are sometimes partially responsible for their injuries if they failed to reasonably recognize and avoid the hazard. 

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