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Liability varies in slip-and-fall accidents

Each day, a number of people are injured in accidents all over New York. While some of these incidences happen on the roadways, many occur doing mundane activities like grocery shopping or walking on a public sidewalk. Slip-and-fall accidents are fairly common and can result in serious injuries. Whether one can recover damages after suffering such an injury will depend on who is responsible for the accident. Property owners are responsible for keeping their properties relatively safe for those who come on to them.

How much responsibility will depend on the status of the visitor. Legally, most visitors fall under one of four categories: invitees, licensees, social guests or trespassers. Customers in a store are considered invitees, as they were invited into the store. Licensees will enter the property for their own purposes with permission from the property owner.

Social guests are welcomed visitors to the property. Trespassers enter the property without any legal right to do so. Typically for invitees, there is an implied promise that the owners have made a reasonable effort to ensure the safety of the property. Licensees and trespassers don't usually have the luxury of this implied promise. Some states will also consider the condition of the property and the activities being conducted by the visitor. If it was reasonable to repair the dangerous condition or at least warn people of it, the owner may be held liable for any resulting harm. There are also situations where both the injured party and property owner are responsible, which could reduce the damages recovered by the injured party. With premises liability cases, it is important to remember that the outcomes can vary widely from case-to-case.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?," accessed on April 6, 2015

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Michael J. Gaffney, Attorney at Law
1164 Victory Blvd.
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