Open or faulty cellar doors can be a source of premises liability
Cellars are not as popular as they once were. Most people no longer wish to access their cellar or basement via a door from the outside. Instead, people try to secure their home by allowing access to the basement or cellar through the interior of the home, not the exterior.
In some cases, after the cellar door access has moved inside, homeowners or landlords may remove the doors to the cellar or leave them open as a general practice. Unfortunately, open cellar doors are basically holes or pits that people can fall into and sustain serious injuries. It doesn’t sound like an issue until it happens to you or your child.
That fall, particularly if it is unexpected and there are stairs, can result in serious trauma, even death. Broken bones, serious contusions, even head or spinal injuries are possible. New York takes steps to minimize the risk of cellar door or cellar grate injuries by regulating them.
Cellar grates and doors are should be secure, sturdy and flush with the nearby wall or sidewalk. Failure to adhere to these rules can result in serious injuries, for which the property owner is likely liable.
Property owners are often liable for injuries due to cellar doors
With rare exceptions, property owners are usually held accountable for cellar door accidents. As someone visiting or living at a property, you have a reasonable expectation that the facilities will be safe. If the owner covered open cellar doors with something that blended in with nearby grounds, making it impossible to see, chances are the owners of the property will be liable for any injuries you or your child incurred as a result.
However, thanks to New York’s comparative liability or comparative negligence laws, if your child was doing something reckless, like jumping on rusted cellar doors which then broke, the courts may find you to be partially responsible for the accident. Providing your attorney with the exact details of the accident can help in the process of determining if you may carry some comparative liability. Chances are, however, even if you are partially responsible for the accident, the property owner will still be expected to cover some of your damages, as determined by the courts.
An attorney can help you after a cellar door accident
If you or a loved one suffered injuries as a result of an open or faulty cellar door, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Your attorney can help you negotiate a settlement with an insurance company for the property owner or assist in the filing of a civil suit to recover any losses, such as medical expenses and lost wages.