What Defenses to Slip and Fall Claims Are There in New York?
Like with any injury claim, the court will not simply award you compensation if you are hurt in a slip and fall. The property owner will also have the chance to be heard. In some cases, they could offer a valid defense that might absolve them of all civil liability.
While most plaintiffs focus primarily on their own claim, it can be helpful to understand the potential defenses that the other side might raise. In fact, preparing for a particular defense could mean the difference between recovering the compensation you need or walking away with nothing. Before you proceed with a lawsuit, let the New York slip and fall lawyers from our firm advise you on this.
The Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is not only a strong defense, but it also serves as a significant obstacle for any civil lawsuit. Should you fail to file your claim before the statutory period expires, the court has the right to dismiss your case. When suing a private property owner for a slip and fall claim, you have three years from the date of the injury.
There was no hazard on the property
At the core of a slip and fall claim, is a hazard on the property of another person. It could include loose tile, accumulated ice, or even poor lighting in a stairway. However, not all property owners will concede that this was a problem. In many cases, the defense will argue that it was either not dangerous or deny it existed. This could include claiming the carpet was not actually loose, or the lighting was adequate.
The defendant was unaware of the hazard
A defendant is not guaranteed to face liability even if they acknowledge that there was an issue on their property and that it did result in the plaintiff’s injuries. This is because a property owner must know or should have known about it before they are responsible.
Whether or not a defendant should have known about a dangerous condition on their property, is a subjective standard. If it was in plain view, the court might find they are liable. Another factor is how long the hazard was in place. The longer it exists on the property, the more likely the courts are to find they should have been aware of it.
The defendant acted reasonably
The defendant can also allege that they took reasonable steps to address it, or that a dangerous condition arose too quickly for them to fix it. For example, a pipe bursts in the middle of a snowstorm, creating an icy patch on a stairwell. If they move quickly to address this, by salting and de-icing, but an individual still fell, they may not be held liable.
The plaintiff was at fault
In some cases, the defendant will point their finger at the plaintiff. This could involve allegations that the plaintiff either caused their own fall or was responsible for the hazard. This defense could also allege that the plaintiff had notice of the danger but suffered an injury due to their own carelessness.
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Any of these defenses could be enough to prevail in a slip and fall injury trial should the court believe them. However, alleging these defenses and proving them are two very different things. We will prepare for them by developing evidence that counters each of these accusations.
If you are ready to proceed with a slip and fall injury claim, we are ready to help. We have experience taking on property owners and the insurance companies that back them. To learn about our process of taking on these defenses, contact the New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas & London right away to schedule a free consultation.