Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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Syracuse personal injury cases have many steps. Once an attorney has been contacted and an investigation has been made into the facts of the event giving rise to the litigation, the next step is to file a formal complaint in a court of law. After that, the case proceeds to the discovery phase.

Just as the name suggests, the discovery phase of litigation is the time during which each side is allowed an opportunity to learn more about his or her opponent’s case. Of course, there are limitations on the scope of such discovery, and disputes can arise regarding whether one party or the other has stepped over the line of what is acceptable.

The trial court controls the discovery phase of litigation, ruling upon the various motions of the litigants as the matter progresses. When a ruling is unfavorable, the affected party may be able to have the matter reviewed by a higher court (although, in some situations, the matter cannot be appealed until after the case has proceeded to a later phase of litigation, such as trial or disposition by summary judgment).

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Under New York law, those who operate businesses that have parking lots, sidewalks, or steps attached to their premises have certain duties to those who use those areas to walk into the owner’s shop, store, or other establishment in order to conduct business. As is typical in personal injury lawsuits, the burden of proof in a Syracuse premises liability lawsuit is on the plaintiff to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. In many cases, however, the defendant will attempt to have the plaintiff’s case dismissed prior to trial via a motion for summary judgment. In cases involving snow and ice, the defendant may argue that the accident happened during a storm and that, thus, it should not be held liable for the accident. In such a situation, it is up to the defendant to provide credible evidence of the weather conditions at the time of the plaintiff’s slip and fall accident.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who allegedly slipped and fell in a snowy parking lot owned by the defendant convenience store. She filed suit in the Supreme Court of Niagara County, seeking compensation for her injuries. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it had no duty to clear the snow and ice upon which the plaintiff fell because there was still a storm in progress at the time of the plaintiff’s fall. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant filed an appeal.

Decision of the Court

The New York Appellate Division, Fourth Department, affirmed the lower court’s denial of the defendant’s summary judgment motion. In so holding, the court noted that the defendant relied  primarily upon a meteorologist’s affidavit to the effect that it was still snowing in the town in which the accident occurred at the time of the plaintiff’s fall. In reviewing this affidavit, the appellate division pointed out that the records upon which the defendant’s expert relied were taken from three other towns – not the town in which the plaintiff fell. In opposition to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff offered a different meteorologist’s report, in which the meteorologist opined that there was no way to state within a reasonable degree of professional certainty whether or not it was snowing at the time in question in the town in which the plaintiff fell.

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In order to prove liability in a Syracuse slip and fall case, the plaintiff must be able to show that an unreasonably safe condition existed and that the defendant proximately caused his or her injuries by creating the condition or in allowing the condition to remain after it should, by the exercise of due diligence, have been discovered and corrected. Without this important link of causation, the plaintiff will not be successful at trial. In many premises liability cases, the defendant will readily admit that there was a dangerous condition that led to the plaintiff’s injuries but deny that it created the condition or knew/should have known about the situation. When evidence is conflicting, it is the job of the jury to resolve any contradictions in the evidence. It is very difficult (although not impossible) to disturb a jury’s verdict on appeal.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case arising in the Supreme Court of Kings County, the primary plaintiff was a carpenter who was hurt when he slipped and fell on a wet floor while installing carpet in a building upon which the defendant waterproofing company had been hired to repair a recurrent leak. According to the complaint filed by the carpenter and his wife, the defendant had been negligent in its repair of the roof, thus causing the wet floor conditions that allegedly led to the carpenter’s fall. The case was tried to a jury, which returned a verdict in the defendant’s favor on the basis that the defendant had not created or exacerbated the unsafe condition of the floor. The trial court entered judgment upon the jury’s favor, and the plaintiffs appealed.

The Appellate Court’s Holding

The Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Judicial Department, affirmed the trial court’s order entering judgment on the jury’s verdict in favor of the defendant. Although the plaintiffs argued on appeal that the jury’s verdict had been against the weight of the evidence, the reviewing tribunal disagreed with this assertion. A jury verdict could only be set aside as being “contrary to the weight of the evidence” if the evidence preponderated so heavily in favor of the party seeking relief from the verdict that the jury could not have fairly interpreted the evidence. If a different view from that promulgated by the party seeking relief on appeal could be reasonable had, the verdict should not be disturbed. Rather, there should be a presumption that the jury viewed the evidence in that light supposed by the prevailing party, rather than in the manner insisted upon by the opposing party.

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Under New York law, property owners have certain responsibilities when it comes to maintaining their property. If this duty of care is breached, a person injured in an accident on the property may be able to pursue fair monetary compensation for medical expenses, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other damages.

If you have been hurt in a trip and fall accident, it is important that you talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Evidence can disappear quickly in these types of cases, making negligence more difficult to prove as time goes by. Talking to an attorney about your fall doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. Our knowledgeable Syracuse premises liability attorneys do not charge a consultation fee and will be glad to explain your legal rights following an accident caused by another’s neglect or carelessness.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a woman who tripped and fell on a sidewalk located in front of the defendant residents’ home. The plaintiff sued both the residents of the home and the city in which the property was located, seeking monetary compensation for her injuries. The residents filed a motion for summary judgment, averring that there were no material issues of fact that needed to be determined by the jury and, even viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the injured woman, they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. In support of their motion, the residents submitted evidence that they were exempt from the statutory liability created by the Administrative Code of the City of New York § 7—210(b) because the property in front of which the plaintiff suffered her fall was an owner-occupied, two-family residence. The defendant residents also averred that there was no evidence showing that they made special use of the area.

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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.

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Of the many Syracuse premises liability lawsuits that are filed, in addition to those filed elsewhere in New York, very few actually make it to trial. There are two main reasons for this.

First of all, as with other types of civil claims, many slip and fall cases are settled out of court. The defendant agrees to pay a certain sum of money to the plaintiff (sometimes without actually admitting liability), and the plaintiff agrees to accept that sum and dismiss his or her case.

Secondly, a significant number of cases are resolved via summary judgment procedure. When summary judgment is granted, a court is essentially saying that looking at the evidence in the light most favorable to the opposing party, the party seeking summary judgment is entitled to judgment as a matter of law, without the need for a jury trial.

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Construction workers face many dangers in the workplace, including the possibility of a fall if working on an elevated surface without the proper safety equipment. If a worker is hurt in such a situation, he or she should talk to an experienced Syracuse construction accident attorney about the process of holding the responsible party accountable for the worker’s injuries.

Such cases can be complicated, as there are several different laws that may come into play, and there may be multiple defendants (the employer, the building owner, the general contractor, etc.) who could potentially be liable.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who was reportedly hurt when he fell from the scaffold of a building while performing plumbing work. He was not wearing a lanyard or harness at the time of the fall. The plaintiff filed suit against the owner of the building, asserting a common-law negligence claim, as well as violations of New York Labor Law §§ 200 and 240(1). The defendant then filed a third-party action against the plaintiff’s employer, seeking indemnification under a subcontract.

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A Syracuse personal injury lawsuit may involve one defendant or multiple defendants. Likewise, a single theory of liability may be asserted, or multiple theories may be included in the plaintiff’s complaint for damages.

The more defendants and the more theories of liability, the more likely it is that some of the claims against the defendant(s) will be dismissed prior to trial. Typically, this is done through the summary judgment process. A party who is aggrieved by a trial court’s decision on a motion for summary judgment may opt to ask an appellate court to review the matter.

Facts of the Case

In a recently decided appellate court decision, the plaintiff was a limousine company employee who was driving a bus made by the defendant bus manufacturer when, in 2012, she stopped at a gas station owned by the defendant gas station owner to refuel. According to the plaintiff, she put the nozzle of the pump into the bus’s fuel tank, engaged the hold-open clip on the nozzle, and waited while the bus refueled. When fuel began to spill out, she disengaged the clip, stopped the flow of fuel, and waited for the pressure to subside. When she removed the nozzle about 20 or 30 seconds later, fuel ejected from the tank and into her eyes, as well as onto her face and body.

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When the owner of a piece of property does not use reasonable care to keep the property safe for those who have a legal right to go onto the property, a premises liability lawsuit may result. In such an action, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant’s negligence resulted in his or her injuries. Of course, the defendant will likely deny that he, she, or it should be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries, and the case may proceed to trial for a determination of the issues.

A party who is dissatisfied by the jury’s verdict and/or the decisions made by the trial court judge may be able to seek further review from an appellate tribunal. If you have been injured and question whether the owner of the property took reasonable care to ensure the safety of those visiting the property, you should speak with a Syracuse premises liability attorney to discuss your case.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case, the plaintiff was a man who filed a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant city, seeking to recover damages for injuries he alleged sustained after tripping on a piece of torn carpeting in the city’s fire department (the plaintiff was employed as a firefighter). The plaintiff’s lawsuit contained allegations under New York General Municipal Law § 205-a, based upon alleged violations of the city’s building code and fire code. The case was tried to a jury, which found that the defendant had violated certain provisions of the city’s building code but that these violations did not cause the plaintiff’s accident either directly or indirectly. The jury also found that there was no violation of New York labor law by the defendant.

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Generally speaking, in order to be successful in a Syracuse slip and fall case, the injured party must be able to prove that he or she was injured as a result of the negligence of a business owner or land holder.

The law does not allow for money damages simply because one person fell on someone else’s land; rather, there must have been some deviation from the usual standard of care owed to those who lawfully come upon another’s property before a verdict can be entered in the plaintiff’s favor.

Because these cases can be challenging, it is important to speak to an attorney as soon as possible if think you may have a claim against a business or landowner due to injuries suffered in a fall-down accident.

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