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What are the elements of a premises liability claim?

This post offers only an overview of premises liability law. You should not construe it as legal advice. If you have been injured on the property of another, you should communicate with a New York personal injury attorney to learn more about what remedies may be available to you.

In many situations if you are on the property of another lawfully (that is, with at least the knowledge if not the permission of the property owner), if you suffer an injury while you are there you may be entitled to compensation on the basis of premises liability, which many know colloquially as "slip and fall" liability.

To effectively establish a premises liability claim, you must be able to prove all of its elements. These include the following:

  • Your rightful presence on the property. The liability of a property owner to trespassers is very limited, unless the owner was aware of their presence. On the other hand, if you were a guest of the owner or on the property to perform some service for the owner, then your presence can be considered to be lawful.
  • The existence of a dangerous condition on the property. This can be anything from the allegorical liquid spill on the supermarket floor to open pits, heavy equipment and more.
  • The negligence of the owner in managing the unsafe condition. Negligence involves knowing or being in a position that the property owner should know of the dangerous condition and not taking sufficient steps to correct it or at least to restrict access to it. This can create a duty on the part of the owner to those lawfully on the property, and an injury to such people can be construed as a breach of that duty.

Premises liability is a species of tort, which means that a successful plaintiff is entitled to compensatory damages (those in connection with the injury received), as well as possibly more indirect damages such as pain and suffering. In more egregious cases even exemplary or "punitive" damages may be sought.

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