Who is Liable for a Slip and Fall in a Public Place

Filing a NY Premises Liability Claim When Injured in a Grocery Store, Mall, Etc.

New York is a busy state, bustling with people and commerce. Not a day goes by without someone slipping and falling in a public place.

If you’re like most people, your first instinct might be to feel embarrassed, or to assume you were at fault for the fall.

But the truth is that many public slip and fall accidents happen because of a hazard the property owner failed to address.

Crowded store floors, slippery surfaces, puddles left to dry… the list goes on. Later in this article, we will explore some of the most common causes of slip and fall accidents in New York.

Falling isn’t just embarrassing, though. It can also be extremely painful. In fact, slip and fall accidents are responsible for more than 1 million Emergency Room visits in the United States every year.

An unexpected fall can leave you injured, perhaps severely. Some slip and fall accidents are even fatal.

So what can you do if you’re injured in a grocery store, mall, hotel, or somewhere else in public? You may be entitled to substantial financial compensation under New York premises liability law.

In today’s article, we explain how slip and fall accidents typically transpire, who is responsible for them, and how an experienced New York personal injury lawyer at O’Connor and Partners can help you claim the compensation you deserve.

Where Do Most Slip and Fall Accidents Happen?

A slip, trip, or fall can happen anywhere. But some public places are especially prone to these kinds of accidents because they are highly trafficked and require ongoing maintenance, or because certain kinds of commercial activity on the property create slipping hazards.

In New York, slip and fall accident claims are common in:

  • Grocery stores
  • Shopping malls
  • “Big box” retail stores
  • Public parks
  • Sidewalks
  • Hotels, motels, timeshares, and resorts
  • Apartment / condo complexes
  • Restaurants and cafés
  • Theaters
  • Hospitals and doctor’s offices
  • Boutiques and bodegas
  • Gas stations
  • Public pools
  • Parking lots, decks, and garages
  • Construction sites
  • Skyscrapers / high rises, large office buildings, and small businesses
  • Amusement parks, museums, monuments, and tourist destinations

Common Causes of a Slip and Fall Accident in a Public Place

Falls happen for many different reasons. Some of the most commonly cited hazards in New York slip and fall injury claims include:

Slip and Fall Injuries From Spills

  • Drinks, cleaning solutions, or other liquid products left on the floor
  • Protein spills (vomit or other bodily fluids)
  • Leaks
  • Puddles

Slip and Fall Injuries from Fallen Objects & Other Hazards

  • Cords, rope, string, or wires (creating a tripping hazard)
  • Unmarked drop-downs
  • Fallen objects from store shelves
  • Debris or other hazards in a store aisle, hallway, or walkway
  • Overcrowded or cluttered walkways (for example, retail stores that cram too many racks or displays in a walkway)

Slip and Fall Injuries From Flooring Issues

  • Wet floors (from mopping, for example)
  • Loose or raised floorboards, panels, or tiles
  • Worn, loose, or raised carpeting
  • Unmarked changes in walking surface
  • Slippery elevator / escalator surfaces

Slip and Fall Injuries Rails and Stairs

  • Loose or broken railing
  • Defective staircases
  • Defective balconies
  • Items left on stairs

Slip and Fall Injuries Outdoor Issues

  • Potholes, loose bricks or pavers, or broken concrete
  • Roots growing up from underneath sidewalks
  • Hazards created by construction or maintenance projects
  • Snow and ice
  • Poor lighting

When Is a Property Owner Responsible for a Slip and Fall Accident in a Public Place?

In New York, property owners have a general duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. This includes, among other things, a duty to:

  • Inspect the property,
  • Monitor for safety hazards,
  • Address hazards in a reasonable and timely manner, and
  • Warn the public about known hazards.

A grocery store, for example, should train its employees to inspect the store vigilantly. Grocery store owners know that spills and fallen products from shelves are common hazards for their customers. Accordingly, they should exercise due care by looking for these hazards and responding to them right away.

If the store becomes aware of a potential tripping or slipping hazard — a wet floor after mopping, for example — they should put adequate “wet floor” signage on display.

If the property owner fails to meet these duties and you suffer injury as a result, you may be entitled to recover financial compensation from the owner. This is the essence of New York premises liability law. In many cases, the sum total of a victim’s damages can be substantial.

Property owners aren’t the only potentially liable parties. Commercial tenants can be liable too. (Grocery stores, malls, and other businesses are often mere tenants, renting their retail space from another owner.) Property managers might be liable too, especially when the management company is responsible for maintaining the premises (as is often the case in apartment complexes, for instance).

A New York slip & fall lawyer at O’Connor and Partners can help you determine which party (or parties) may be liable for the damages you’ve suffered.

Are the Rules Different for Ice and Snow?

New York is no stranger to snowstorms and blizzards. Property owners in our state do have a duty to make reasonable efforts to clear dangerous snow or ice in a reasonable amount of time. But the key word here is reasonable.

Property owners generally are not expected to stand in the middle of a blizzard and scrape away snow as it falls, for example. Nor are they necessarily expected to buy a plow and clear every inch of their property the second the snowfall stops.

But property owners do need to make a reasonable effort to clear away snow or ice that poses a foreseeable risk of harm to their customers or the public.

Filing an injury claim after a slip and fall accident caused by ice or snow in New York can be challenging. The property owners typically argue that their failure to prevent the injury was not unreasonable, given the weather conditions. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible for victims to recover.

If you’ve suffered injury because a property owner failed to meet their responsibilities after an ice or snow storm, you deserve to be compensated. An experienced New York premises liability attorney can help you fight for the money you deserve. Call O’Connor and Partners to talk about your situation right away.

Are the Rules Different for Government-Owned Property?

Whether you’re a resident here or a visitor, if you’ve been injured on city-owned, county-owned, or state-owned property in Kingston or elsewhere in New York, you might be wondering, “Can I sue if I’m injured on public property?”

As a general rule, the answer to that question is yes. Different rules can apply to these claims when the defendant is a governmental entity. Nevertheless, you should know that cities, counties, and the state do still have a responsibility to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition.

If you’ve been injured on municipal property in Kingston or while on any other government property in New York, please call O’Connor and Partners as soon as possible to learn more.

What About Slip and Fall on Residential Property?

While this article is focused on slip-and-fall injuries on public property, you should know that you might have a right to compensation after an injury on residential property. We handle these kinds of claims as well, so we encourage you to call our office and talk about your injury with a New York premises liability lawyer.

Schedule a Free Consultation with O’Connor and Partners

Have you suffered an injury while shopping, dining, going for a walk, or staying at a hotel in New York? Did you slip and fall because of a hazard or dangerous property condition that the owner, tenant, or manager failed to correct? If so, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation.

At O’Connor and Partners, we are happy to offer no-cost, no-risk personal injury consultations. Even better, if you do end up hiring us after the consultation, we will not charge a fee unless we get you money first.

Our personal injury firm fights hard to maximize compensation for the clients we represent.

We offer services to accident victims and their loved ones in Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, the Hudson Valley, New York City, and throughout the Empire State. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you. Just contact us online or call 845-303-8777 to talk with an experienced Kingston premises liability lawyer today.

by O'Connor & Partners, PLLC
Last updated on - Originally published on

Posted in: Slip & Fall Accidents, Personal Injuries