New York property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. When this does not happen, a New York premises liability lawsuit provides a legal remedy to the injured accident victim. Of course, not every slip and fall on another’s property will result in a favorable judgment for the injured person. There are many factors that must be considered. Some of these factors include the nature of the alleged defect, how long the defect had been present, and whether the landowner was aware of the defect and had time to correct it prior to the accident.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in a recent case was a woman who injured her shoulder when she her foot caught the lip of a raised concrete sidewalk slab while walking toward a diner in May 2016. The woman, joined in the suit by her husband, sought compensation for her injuries, alleging that the defendants, the owner of the diner and the owner of a nearby firehouse, were negligent and that this negligence was the cause of her injuries. Both defendants filed motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Court of Greene County denied the defendants’ motions, and they appealed, arguing that the alleged defect about which the plaintiff complained was trivial and, thus, not actionable under New York law.
Decision of the Court
The New York Appellate Division, Third Department, modified the trial court’s order by reversing the denial of the firehouse’s motion for summary judgment but affirming as to the part of the order denying the diner owner’s motion. The court began by acknowledging that trivial defects do not render a landowner liable for a guest’s injuries but noting that there is no “predetermined height differential” in a sidewalk or other walking area (such as the one upon which the plaintiff was injured) that automatically rendered a defect trivial or not trivial. Rather, courts must consider various factors, including width, depth, elevation, irregularity, and appearance of the accident location. The time, place, and circumstances of the plaintiff’s injury may also be considered by a reviewing court.