This is our fourth post in a series dealing with the topic of premises liability. We’ve already looked briefly at premises liability claims in general, as well as the issues of comparative negligence and assumption of risk in the context of premises liability.
So called “slip and fall” cases are among the most common types of premises liability claims. Case law in New York has established several viable defenses for property owners faced with potential premises liability in slip and fall cases. First of all, a plaintiff must be able to prove the existence of a dangerous or defective condition on the property which led to his or her injury. A plaintiff who cannot who cannot provide sufficient evidence to establish such a condition may not hold the property owner liable.
Not only must there have been a defective condition on the property, but the defect must a certain character to it. Two important defenses deal with the nature of the defect. First of all, the defect must not have been trivial. What exactly constitutes trivial is a matter for a jury to decide, and there are factors that are supposed to be taken into account. The basic idea, though, is that not every technically defective condition is sufficient to give rise to a claim of negligence.
Another defense for property owners in slip and fall cases involves open and obvious defects. The basic idea of this defense is that the dangerous condition was clearly visible for the injury party to see and therefore required no warning. That being said, property owners who property is open to the public are still required to take action with regard to dangerous conditions which aren’t easily observable.
In our next post, we’ll wrap up this series, looking particularly at the importance of working with an experienced attorney to hold negligent property owners liable.
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