Understanding the Elements of a Premises Liability Case

The foundation of any premises liability case in New York is fairly straightforward: an injury occurred, and the property owner can be held liable if negligence or some other factor is to blame. The problem is that these types of cases can be incredibly complex, given the number of elements that must be established in order to successfully prove premises liability. 

Trying to understand these elements can feel daunting, but it doesn’t need to be! In the article, we will discuss the fundamentals of premises liability in NYC and provide a resource to help you better understand your rights and responsibilities in a premises liability case.

What Are the Elements of a Premises Liability Case in NYC?

A premises liability case is defined as an action brought against a property owner or occupier alleging negligence in the maintenance, construction, or management of his or her property. In order to win a premises liability case, four separate elements must be proven: duty of care, breach of duty of care, causation, and damages. 

Duty of care requires that the landowner or occupier maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition for expected persons who may enter the property, while breach of duty is the actual violation of that expectation through inadequate security measures or unsafe conditions. 

Causation requires the negligent act to be a cause-in-fact of harm—meaning that but for the faulty condition on the property, the plaintiff would not have incurred any injuries.

Finally, damages are any harm sustained by a plaintiff due to another’s negligence. All four elements must be present in order for a plaintiff to win; otherwise, they might lose their right to recover damages.

When approaching premises liability cases, some may argue that it is up to landowners and occupiers to do their best to ensure their properties are safe from potential hazards. Others may suggest that certain areas should include warning signs or even provide safety assistance if needed, emphasizing children’s safety in particular. However, no matter what type of alleged negligence there was—such as leaving tools on site or failing to repair hazardous areas—it is ultimately up to the jurors to decide whether or not liability applies based on all the given evidence and arguments from each side.

Ultimately, regardless of which side takes responsibility for creating dangerous situations on another’s premises, landowners and occupiers have an obligation under New York law—a duty of care—to provide reasonable protection against hazards to visitors and occupants alike. As illustrated by many unfortunate events resulting in injury and loss of life due to hazardous conditions on private properties across the United States, understanding this obligation is vital when dealing with premises liability cases.

  • According to data from the American Bar Association, approximately 75% of all premises liability cases are either slip-and-fall cases or trip-and-fall accidents.
  • According to studies conducted by the National Safety Council, premises liability may be caused by inadequate building maintenance or inspection as much as 35% of the time.
  • Common injuries arising from a premises liability case include fractures, head trauma, lacerations, sprains, and nerve damage.

Landowners’ Duty of Care to Occupiers and Visitors

Regarding premises liability, it is essential to understand the standard of care required of a landowner towards those present on their property. To keep or not keep visitors and occupiers safe on a premises falls under the landowner’s duty of care. Depending on the jurisdiction, there exists a range of expectations for landowners. Generally speaking, the landowner must inspect, manage, and control their own property to ensure that no known dangers could potentially harm those on it.

The exact standard of care required from landowners varies from state to state and even from case to case within some states, as a duty of care assessment will be made considering the specific circumstances at hand.

Ultimately, determining who is responsible for taking action in light of the foreseeable danger to prevent injury is left up to individual jurisdictions when developing premises liability policies and laws. With that said, it is undeniable that understanding the concept of duty of care is an integral part of formulating legal claims for premises liability cases, as it sets precedence for the level of responsibility both parties must adhere to, depending on their occupancy status.

Dangerous Condition or Substance on the Premises

When a dangerous condition or substance exists on the premises of a visitor or occupier, special attention must be paid to what duty of care was owed and to which party. A landowner is responsible for inspecting their property to identify hazards that could result in injury or harm before allowing others onto the premises. 

If the landowner failed to do this, even if the existence of a hazard was not known to them, they could still be liable for damages if an accident occurred. Therefore, it is important for landowners to consider all potential scenarios and harms that may arise from a hazardous condition or substance and take reasonable steps for prevention.

To strengthen a plaintiff’s case, the court must provide evidence demonstrating that the landowner did not meet their due diligence regarding identifying dangerous conditions or substances on the property. 

Circumstantial evidence, such as witness testimony, expert opinion, prior accidents, timeframe for inspection and maintenance, etc., may be analyzed as part of this assessment. Evidence can come in many forms, and each case must be evaluated on its own merits.

It is also important to note that while hazardous conditions or substances can significantly increase a landowner’s liability unless proven negligence on their part, there still may not be grounds for recovery of damages. Every NYC legal case will depend on its unique circumstances, and viable evidence must be provided to support any claims made by the plaintiff.

With any premises liability case, understanding both sides of the argument is essential. As such, regarding dangerous conditions or substances on the premises, both parties often seek legal counsel to assess these claims thoroughly and present an appropriate argument in court.

Risk Involved in the Accident

When assessing a premises liability case, it is important to understand the risks involved in the accident. A common risk discussed in such cases is that of injury or death due to a dangerous condition or substance on the premises. Here, the debate between the two sides begins: did the landowner or occupiers know about the issue and fail to take steps to correct it? Or was the dangerous condition not known by either party and, therefore, could not have been reasonably prevented?

On the one hand, the landowner or occupier may have been aware of potential dangers and chosen to ignore them. In situations such as these, evidence must be presented to suggest this negligence. Examples of supporting evidence can include witness statements claiming knowledge of a hazardous situation, emails between employees discussing hazards, or photos showing dangerous conditions that were present at the time of injury or death.

On the other hand, if there was no way for either party to be aware of a danger, liabilities may not exist. When considering this line of argument, certain criteria must be met, such as whether an inspection was made before opening up to customers and what knowledge of any hazardous situations could have been reasonably expected. It should be noted that even if a party had no knowledge of a hazard before an accident occurred, they could still be held responsible for negligent protection against foreseeable risks.

As states vary in how they approach premises liability cases, understanding both sides of an argument and accumulating evidence are essential when forming an opinion on the potential risks involved in any given accident. With this understanding firmly in place, it allows parties to then delve deeper into the nuances of premises liability cases by examining whether negligence by either the landowner or occupier played a part in causing an injury or fatality.

Negligence by the Landowner or Occupier

Negligence by the landowner or occupier of the premises is an essential element in a premises liability case. Determining if a person who is injured on another’s property was owed a duty of care often comes down to the premise’s owner or operator’s negligence. The burden lays upon the plaintiff to prove that the landowner was negligent and responsible for the victim’s injury.

When it comes to charging negligence, there are two sides to consider. Landowners are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors and alerting them to potential risks, if applicable. In comparison, many laws give landowners protection against plaintiffs who claim that the landowner or occupiers failed to meet certain safety duties.

Moreover, neighboring businesses have been found liable for a negligent breach of duty when a certain property isn’t dividing one business from another by a fence line or sidewalk. In other instances, common carriers may be responsible when they fail to provide adequate support and security while transporting customers from place to place safely.

It’s clear that negligence by property owners and occupiers plays a critical role in premises liability cases, as such evidence has provided both plaintiffs and defendants with arguments used during determinations related to legal obligations involving harm-causing situations on someone else’s property.

Victim’s Status on the Premises: Visitation or Trespassers

When it comes to evaluating a premises liability case, the status of the victim during the time of their visits is paramount. The legalities surrounding responsibility for a visitor’s safety revolve around the concept of trespassers versus invitees. Generally speaking, a landowner or occupier owes more duties to an invitee than a trespasser. Typically, invitees are invited onto the property for commercial gain, whereas trespassers are there without permission and can be subject to civil penalties and criminal prosecution.

As mentioned, landowners have higher duties towards those invited onto their property for commercial gain due to their increased risks. On the other hand, landowners are still obligated to provide a reasonable level of safety to trespassers who enter their property unknowingly or by accident and need to exercise reasonable care not to create an unreasonable hazard or risk of harm. 

Evidence such as surveyors’ plans and documents demonstrating that certain areas are off limits can prove valuable in determining whether someone was invited on the premises or was a trespasser.

No matter if the victim was an invitee or a trespasser, they may be able to recover damages if they were injured while on another’s property due to negligence by the landowner or occupier. Therefore, in order for liability to be determined, the law must be examined. Understanding tort and liability law and how it applies provides significant insight into potential liability claims against the alleged negligent party.

Fault/Liability Law and Liability Claims

Regarding fault and liability law and liability claims, the context of premises liability is important and must be considered for a successful outcome. When examining a premises liability case, fault or liability can be determined according to who controls the space in question. Different New York laws may apply depending on the visitor’s or trespasser’s legal status.

In most cases, the owner of the premises is held to a higher standard of care than the trespassers. This responsibility requires owners to provide a safe environment not only for invitees and licensees but also for trespassers, taking into account foreseeable risks that may be present on their property. Owners must take reasonable measures to ensure safety, and they may not place unreasonable risks in front of those entering the premises, regardless of status.

However, courts across the nation sometimes disagree on what constitutes a reasonable level of care. Whether or not an owner held a duty of care toward a trespasser is typically based on whether it was foreseeable that a person might enter their property without permission; if so, then the legal responsibility would come into play as it is expected that owners will take reasonable steps to protect trespassers from potential harm.

In order to prevail on a negligence claim against an owner or occupier of premises, however, it must be proved that: (1) there was a duty of care owed by the defendant towards plaintiffs; (2) this duty was breached; (3) injury and damages occurred; and (4) there was causality between the breach and the resulting injury and damages. Plaintiffs are required to meet all elements, which can be difficult as injuries caused by premises liability are often complex and involve multiple theories of negligence.

In wide-ranging cases such as this, evidence is key to successfully proving fault or liability law and claims. It is important to review meticulously all available evidence, including witnesses’ testimonies and physical objects present at the scene; such evidence needs to be compared with state regulations and laws so that fault or liability can be accurately determined and accident victims receive proper compensation for their damages resulting from negligent behavior by property owners or occupants or third parties operating on their premises.


What are the damages recoverable in a premises liability case?

In a premises liability case, the damages that can be recovered include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Medical expenses refer to any costs related to treating and caring for an injury caused by a premises liability incident. Lost wages cover income lost due to an inability to work due to the injury. Pain and suffering encompass any physical or emotional upset experienced due to the injury. Property damage covers the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property resulting from an incident. Punitive damages may also be recoverable in extreme negligence cases depending on the jurisdiction.

What legal standards must be met in order to establish a premises liability case in New York?

In order to establish a premises liability case, the plaintiff must prove negligence on the part of the defendant. This means that the plaintiff needs to provide evidence that the defendant had a duty to maintain safe conditions on their property and failed by either not preventing injury or acting reasonably to protect those on the premises from harm.

To fulfill this standard, it must be shown that:

1) The defendant directly caused or was responsible for creating an unsafe condition;
2) The defendant knew or should have known about the hazard.
3) They failed to take reasonable steps to alleviate the hazard; and
4) The plaintiff was injured, suffered damages, or suffered losses due to negligence.

These legal standards must be met in order for a plaintiff to successfully prove their premises liability case.

What types of occurrences are usually involved in a premises liability case?

A premises liability case typically involves any type of injury sustained on someone else’s property due to the owner, manager, or another person with control of that property’s negligence. Common occurrences include slips and falls, inadequate security, hazardous conditions, defective stairs or walkways, swimming pool accidents, and animal attacks.

In each of these cases, the property owner or manager has a duty to provide safe conditions and warn of potential hazards or dangers. If a hazard is not obvious and no warning is given, the property owner may be liable for any resulting injuries. For example, if a patron were to slip and fall due to an obscured wet floor sign in a restaurant, the restaurant would be liable for the resulting injury. 

In other cases, such as parking lot assaults resulting from inadequate security measures, negligence can also come into play. In short, any hazardous condition on someone else’s property due to a lack of care can form the basis for a premises liability case.

Get a Free Case Review from Experienced Premises Liability Attorneys in New York City

Ross & Hill is a well-respected personal injury law firm in New York City specializing in premises liability cases. With over 30 years of experience in the field, Ross & Hill has established a reputation as experienced attorneys who fight tirelessly for clients. 

We have a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who have successfully represented clients in a wide variety of premises liability cases. We understand the nuances of New York City’s premises liability laws and have a track record of securing favorable settlements and verdicts for our clients.

One of the key strengths of Ross & Hill is our commitment to personalized attention for each client. We understand that every case is unique and requires individual attention and care. Our premises liability attorneys take the time to thoroughly investigate each case and work closely with our clients to understand their needs and goals. 

In addition to our legal expertise, the law firm of Ross & Hill is known for its compassion and dedication to its clients. We understand that being injured on someone else’s property can be a traumatic experience, and we work to provide each of our clients with the support and guidance they need during this difficult time. 

We are an excellent choice for anyone needing experienced premises liability attorneys in New York City. With our long track record of success and commitment to personalized attention, clients can trust that they are in good hands with Ross & Hill. 

Call now for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced premises liability attorney.

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