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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

Non-profit organizations regularly hold functions for members and patrons. People attending such events typically expect them to be safe. Unfortunately, though, it is not uncommon for incidents to occur during non-profit social events, and in many instances, they are the result of negligence. While there are laws that protect non-profit organizations from liability, they only apply in certain circumstances, as explained in a recent New York opinion. If you were injured in an accident brought about by another person’s negligence, it would benefit you to meet with a Syracuse personal injury lawyer to evaluate your options for seeking damages.

Factual Background and Procedural History

It is alleged that the plaintiff attended a summit organized by the defendant academy at the defendant church. During the event, one man threw a bag to another; the man catching the bag fell backward into the plaintiff, causing him to fall and sustain injuries. The plaintiff and his wife filed a lawsuit seeking damages against various defendants, including the president of the defendant academy and the defendant church.

Reportedly, the president of the defendant academy moved for summary judgment, claiming immunity under Not-for-Profit Corporation Law § 720-a. The defendant church also moved for summary judgment, arguing it couldn’t be held liable for the actions of the two men as they were unforeseeable and spontaneous. The plaintiffs also sought partial summary judgment on liability against the man who fell into him and dismissal of the defendants’ affirmative defenses. Additionally, the defendant church and the defendant man requested bifurcation of the trial into liability and damages phases. Continue Reading ›

Slip and fall accidents happen with regularity in superstores, and in most instances, they are caused by liquid or other slippery substances that have spilled onto the ground. Store owners have an obligation under the law to maintain their premises in a safe condition, and they can be held accountable for the harm that arises out of slip and fall incidents. As explained in a recent ruling issued by a New York court, however, a store owner will only be deemed liable if the injured party can show that the owner knew or should have known of the presence of the condition that caused the fall. If you suffered injuries in a fall that happened while you were shopping, it is smart to talk to a Syracuse personal injury lawyer to evaluate whether you may be able to recover compensation in a civil lawsuit.

The Facts of the Case

Reportedly, the plaintiff was shopping at the defendant’s superstore in March 2020 when he slipped and fell in a puddle of pasta sauce in one of the store’s aisles. The sauce had not yet congealed but was still liquid at the time of the fall, and both the floor and the sauce were white. The plaintiff did not notice the sauce before he fell, and he reported that other than the puddle, the floor was clean.

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a premises liability lawsuit against the defendant, alleging its negligent failure to maintain the store in a safe condition caused the plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injuries. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to show that the defendant had actual or constructive notice of the spill prior to the plaintiff’s fall. Continue Reading ›

New York is home to many hotels that countless people stay in each year. People visiting hotels typically anticipate that they will have a safe and enjoyable experience, but it is not uncommon for hotel guests to encounter dangerous conditions that cause them to trip and fall. Fortunately, many people hurt in falls can recover compensation from the owner of the property where the incident occurred. If you sustained harm in a fall, it is advisable to meet with a Syracuse personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Fall

It is reported that the plaintiff suffered injuries when she tripped and fell in the hallway of the defendant’s hotel. She filed a personal injury lawsuit against the manager of the hotel and the entities that owned it, arguing that their negligence caused her fall and subsequent damages. Specifically, she averred that there was a defect in the carpet that caught her foot, causing her to tumble. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to show they were responsible for or had actual or constructive notice of the alleged defect, and therefore they could not be held liable for negligence.

Proving Liability for a Trip and Fall Accident

In analyzing the defendant’s motion, the court explained that, under New York law, a plaintiff asserting a negligence claim must show that they were owed a duty of care by the defendant, a breach of the duty by the defendant, and damages that were proximately caused by the breach. Further, in order for a defendant to be found liable for a slip and fall accident, the plaintiff must produce evidence showing both that a defective or dangerous condition existed and that the defendant either created the defect or had actual or constructive knowledge of its existence but failed to repair it within a reasonable amount of time. Continue Reading ›

Under New York law, property owners have a duty to maintain their premises so that they are safe for all legal entrants. When property owners fail to uphold this obligation, it often leads to dangerous conditions, and people hurt in accidents caused by such hazards may be able to recover damages via premises liability lawsuits. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion discussing what a plaintiff must prove to establish that a property owner should be held liable for harm suffered in a slip and fall accident caused by a known hazard. If you were hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, you should speak to a trusted Syracuse slip and fall accident attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the plaintiff was an adult camper at a camp owned by the defendants. The camp, which was for developmentally disabled adults, had a path that ran behind the dining hall. When the plaintiff was walking on the path one evening, he slipped and fell down an embankment and sustained injuries. The path was bordered by a strip of grass, which was wet from evening dew at the time of the fall, and did not have a railing.

Allegedly, the plaintiff’s mother filed a lawsuit against the defendant on behalf of the plaintiff, alleging negligence claims. The plaintiff could not offer testimony as to the circumstances that led to the fall due to his disabilities. Thus, the defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff could not establish how the fall occurred. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading ›

Tragedy can strike in just a moment. One minute, someone is driving down the road, going in for a routine medical procedure, or even standing in the parking lot of a mall, and the next minute their life is changed forever.

When someone is hurt because of another’s failure to take reasonable care as required by law, the injured individual has a right to seek compensation via a personal injury or negligence lawsuit. While the burden of proof at trial in a Syracuse personal injury case is on the plaintiff, it is quite possible that he or she can be awarded a considerable amount of money in compensation for the injuries suffered due to the defendant’s negligence or carelessness.

Of course, as with any other remedy awarded by a trial court, it is possible that the plaintiff will have to continue the fight in the appellate courts. Defendants may have one or several alleged errors that they believe entitle them to a reversal of the trial court’s entry of judgment on the verdict, a downward adjustment of the verdict, or other relief.

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Property owners are not liable for every injury that happens on their premises. For instance, it would be unlikely that liability would lie with a property owner in a Syracuse premises liability lawsuit in which a passerby was struck by a limb blown down by tornadic or hurricane-force winds.

However, if a particular accident was reasonably foreseeable to the property owner, liability may indeed be imposed. In the example of the downed limb, the landowner might become liable if the injured person could prove that the limb in question was from a dead tree that, in the exercise of reasonable care, should have been cut down months or even years before the plaintiff’s injury and could have been blown down by much less severe winds. In other words, maybe that tree branch was “an accident just waiting to happen.”

Snow and ice are also natural events about which a property owner’s liability depends very much on the circumstances of a particular accident. In some situations, others besides the landowner may also be held liable.

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Property owners and those that own businesses have certain obligations to the public. While stores, restaurants, and shops aren’t the insurers of every individual who sets foot on their premises, they do have a responsibility to take reasonable measures to prevent harm to others.

In many cases, the resolution of whether or not the business or landowner is liable for a guest’s Syracuse premises liability accident depends upon how long the allegedly dangerous condition existed. Even if the property owner did not have actual notice of the condition, there could still be liability if “constructive” notice was present.

Constructive notice exists when a condition was in place long enough for a reasonably prudent business or landowner to have become aware of the danger and taken steps to correct it. The exact time necessary for constructive notice to be present is usually dependent upon the facts of a specific case.

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Property owners have certain duties to the general public, especially those who come upon their premises for a business purpose (such as a customer shopping in a store). When the landowner or property manager does not maintain a place of business in a reasonably safe manner, a person injured thereby may have grounds to file a Syracuse premises liability claim.

It is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible after such an accident, as spoliation of the evidence can create challenges later on as the plaintiff seeks to establish a case of liability. Photos should be taken of the scene, witnesses should be interviewed, and any surveillance video should be preserved.

An attorney experienced in such matters can be a great asset to a person injured on another’s property. Together, the injured person and his or her counsel can build as strong a case as possible against the landowner as the case progresses towards a trial by jury.

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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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