- Liability: A party is liable when they are held legally responsible for something.
- Negligence: The failure to behave within the level of care that a reasonable person would have exercised under the same circumstances. Either a person’s (or organization’s) actions or omissions of actions can be found negligent.
Our Case – Client Falls Down the Stairs. Who Is Responsible?
On May 19, 2020, our client, a healthy woman in her 60s, was walking down the stairs in a walk-up New York City building. She had just left the pilates gym on the 3rd floor, and while on the way to the building’s exit, she fell down the staircase connecting the second floor with the ground level exit (total of 22 steps).
Our client sustained serious injuries from this fall, including traumatic brain injury, multiple skull base fractures, contusions and bruising to the forehead, hydrocephalus, among several others. As a result of her injuries, she suffered from a period of being non-verbal, a period of no independent ambulation, facial droop, and dealt with multiple surgeries and treatments.
The property where this incident occurred is owned by a property management company, who would ultimately need to be found responsible for our client’s fall for her to recover.
According to New York Law, property owners have a “duty of care” to make sure their building is free of obvious and potential dangers that could be harmful to residents or customers. These standards are outlined in what’s referred to as New York Premises Liability Law (3). To have a case under this law, injuries must result from the property owner’s negligence.
For the property owner to be negligent in this case, they must have failed to take any action to remedy some attribute making the staircase unsafe. Below is a picture of the staircase, and staircase footing which are the subject of our client’s injuries:
Legal Processes to Prove Negligence and Make a Case
As we began to intake the case and establish evidence, L&S almost immediately dispatched an expert familiar with proper building maintenance and care to the scene for an inspection.
Several notes came from this inspection, which helped us determine a cause of our client’s fall and thereby attribute responsibility to the building owners.
Most notably, our expert was able to realize several conditions that made this staircase unsafe. When combined with the video evidence we were able to obtain, we formulated the evidence and legal footing for our client to recover.
Our expert took the following pictures, with the ruler centered over the area that our client was seen stepping over. As you can see, the floor does not look to be in good condition.
If you look at the surface of the floor in this image, you will see several cracks. Our expert helped us determine that these were caused by the tile being forced to match the irregularities of the floor.
These alone made for an unstable footing right at the top of a large staircase.
As our expert looked further, he was able to point out the straightedge laying on the floor, between the yellow line and the actual step.
This line, measured to be about 1/8 of an inch was enough to cause our client to fall down the stairs.
New York Personal Injury Intake & Case FAQs
Why is the intake process so important in a personal injury case?
The intake process sets the foundation for the case. Accurately collecting information, understanding the client’s needs, and assessing the potential of the case determines the roadmap for the litigation ahead.
How does a thorough intake process benefit my case?
A comprehensive intake ensures that every detail is considered, potential challenges are anticipated, and a strategic plan is laid out from the start. This thoroughness often leads to better outcomes, whether in settlements or trials.
What kinds of hazards are covered under premises liability?
Common hazards include wet floors, uneven surfaces, poor lighting, falling objects, broken staircases, and more. Essentially, any unsafe condition that causes an injury can potentially be covered.
Can I still have a premises liability case if I was partially at fault for my injury?
In many jurisdictions, you can still recover damages if you were partially at fault, but your compensation might be reduced by the percentage of your fault. This principle is often called “comparative negligence” or “contributory negligence.”
Get a Personal Injury Lawyer that Will Win the Case at Intake!
The attorneys at Leav & Steinberg were able to use deep understanding of New York premises liability law as well as expert accounts to recover the maximum limits of $1,000,000 for our client. In this case, knowledge of legal processes and the steps required to make a case allowed us to reach that settlement and provide some sense of relief to our client for her injuries.
If you have been injured because of improper building maintenance, you should contact a lawyer that is well-versed in premises liability law and connected with experts that will be able to make a case for you.
Contact us for a free consultation on your accident, and Leav & Steinberg will provide an in-depth analysis of your case. By contacting us, you can trust that you are getting information from a highly experienced law firm that will invest in your case, and help you recover the fullest amount possible for your injuries.