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Is the New York City property owner liable for my injuries?

Sometimes, it can be difficult to sort out which person or entity may be liable for injuries that someone suffers from hazardous or negligent conditions occurring on their New York City property.

It can be helpful to first determine the category of the injured person. Was this individual considered an invitee, licensee or trespasser at the time the injury occurred?

An invitee would include a customer who slips on a spill and falls down inside of a retail store. A job applicant would also meet the criteria of invitee. It is incumbent upon the owners to take the highest level of care to make sure that the premises are safe. This means that not only is the property owner responsible for correcting and repairing any known safety hazards but must also reasonably inspect the property to locate and fix hazards that may exist in the areas where invitees can access.

"Reasonable" as defined by the law means what an individual who possesses ordinary judgment and intelligence would do under the same set of circumstances.

Licensees are people who come onto a property for their own purpose or for a social purpose. The level of care is a little lower for them than for invitees, meaning that the owner must take reasonable care to protect them from known hazards. There is no duty to inspect and identify unknown hazards.

Regarding trespassers or those who are unauthorized to be on a property, premises owners do not have an obligation to protect them but are not allowed to willfully injure them. If trespassers frequently access the property, however, and the owner knows or should have known this, he can be held liable for injuries stemming from unsafe property conditions under certain circumstances.

These include that the unsafe conditions were created or maintained by the owner; the condition has a likelihood of causing serious bodily harm or death; or the property owner did not exercise reasonable care by warning alleged trespassers of the hazardous condition and its risks.

The concept of "attractive nuisances" raises the bar on trespassing done by children and can include unfenced, unlocked swimming pools, heavy machinery and uncapped wells. Under these circumstances and due to a typical child's naivete, property owners must inspect their property to identify and correct unsafe conditions that may attract children.

A personal injury attorney can help injured parties sort out liability issues.

Source: FindLaw, "Property Owners' Legal Duty to Prevent Injury" Oct. 23, 2014

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