Persons injured on another premises must prove that the owner of the premises owed a duty of care to the plaintiff, that the owner breached that duty and that the breach of this duty caused the damages or injury. Where a person is injured in a slip and fall accident, however, New York courts also require that the premises owner created the hazard or dangerous condition or that the owner had constructive notice of that condition.
An owner had constructive notice when the condition was visible or apparent and existed for a time that was sufficient for the owner to discover and correct it before the accident. Proving constructive notice requires the presentation of facts indicating the size and duration of the hazard, among other things.
For example, a U.S. District Court interpreted New York law and dismissed a case against a contracted cleaning service for an airline involving an employee who slipped and fell on a puddle in a restroom. The court found that the plaintiff relied on speculation when he could not show whether the puddle was visible and apparent.
He did not present evidence on the length of time the puddle was on the floor and that the service had the opportunity to discover the slippery surface and remedy it before the accident. In fact, the service’s employees policed or inspected the restroom each hour.
In an earlier case, a New York court ruled that the premises owner did not have actual or constructive notice of a hazard and dismissed a negligence case against a supermarket where a customer slipped on grapes that fell on the floor. That court ruled that the customer could not show how long the produce was on the floor before the accident. The supermarket’s employees also routinely cleaned up or inspected that area of the supermarket.
Slip and fall cases often include these specific issues which can lead to the dismissal of a case. To help assure that compensation may be awarded or that a premises liability case can proceed to trial, a victim of landlord negligence should promptly seek legal assistance.
Source: LEAGLE, “Doona v. OneSource Holdings, Inc., 680 F. Supp. 2d (E.D. NY, 2010),” Assessed March 23, 2015