In the event that you are injured from a slip and fall, for example, on an icy parking lot, or a trip and fall on a broken sidewalk, you may be entitled to compensation. It is important that if this occurs, in addition to seeking medical attention, you notify the property owner as soon as possible. Some other things to keep in mind are as follows:
- Look to see where you fell and what may have caused your fall whether it is a defect in the floor or sidewalk, substance spilled on the floor or an object that caused you to trip;
- Take pictures of the scene of the accident as well as the object, substance or defect that caused your fall; and
- Check around you to see if there were any witnesses to your fall and if so, obtain their names and telephone numbers.
In New York, under the theory of premises liability, legal responsibility is placed on landowners for injuries resulting from accidents that occur on their property. However, a landowner is only liable if they had either actual or constructive notice of the condition which gave rise to the accident that caused the injury. “Actual notice” is when notice has been expressly given to the party directly or the party created the condition themself. “Constructive notice” is when a party with the exercise of reasonable care should have known about the condition. If either of these forms of notice can be shown, the landlord can be held liable for your injuries.
Slip and falls on snow and/or ice also require notice and under New York law, property owners have a “reasonable amount of time” from the time a storm stops, to clear the snow and ice off their property. If a storm is in progress, you will not be able to recover for your injuries. It is often necessary to obtain a forensic weather expert to show that a reasonable amount of time had passed since the cessation of the storm.
If you fall on private property, you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the property owner and possibly the lessor of the property if they were responsible for maintaining the property in a safe condition. However, if you fall on the sidewalk owned by a municipality, you must file a Notice of Claim against that municipality within 90 days of your fall. Failure to timely file this document could result in you being barred from obtaining any recovery for your injuries from that municipality. In addition to filing the Notice of Claim, any lawsuit for that accident must be filed within 1 year and 90 days of your fall. In most jurisdictions, a municipality is not responsible for injuries caused by defects in sidewalks or roads unless they have received “prior written notice” of the defective condition.
It is important that you contact an attorney who has experience handling all types of slip and fall and trip and fall cases as soon as possible to ensure that these time limits do not pass and prevent you from receiving the compensation you are owed. The attorneys at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP can act quickly to gather evidence to establish your case against the landowner or municipality before the evidence is gone and will do everything possible to make sure that your case is ready to be prosecuted.