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New York Court Explains a Plaintiff’s Burden of Proof in a Premises Liability Case

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.

Elements of a Premises Liability Claim

On appeal, the appellate court found that an issue of fact existed as to whether the defendant breached its duty to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition by failing to erect a barrier or railing along the walkway and reversed the trial court ruling. The court noted that under New York law, a landowner must act as a reasonable person would in maintaining its property in a condition that is reasonably safe in light of the circumstances, including the burden of avoiding the risk, the likelihood of harm, and the severity of the injuries that may occur.

The court explained that an owner’s duty would vary with the likelihood of the plaintiff’s presence at the place and time of injury. Further, the court noted that landowners have a duty to prevent harm that might occur because of dangerous terrain. In the subject case, the plaintiff argued the walkway was inherently dangerous due to the lack of railing, presenting an issue of fact as to whether the defendant breached the duty owed. Based on the foregoing, the court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer in Syracuse

Hazardous conditions are one of the primary causes of slip and fall accidents, and landowners that allow them to exist should be held responsible for any harm suffered in fall incidents. If you sustained harm in a fall, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse slip and fall attorney to evaluate whether you may be owed compensation for your injuries. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our experienced attorneys can advise you of your rights and gather the evidence needed to provide you with a strong chance of a successful result. You can contact us through our form online or by calling 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.

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