We all tend to slip, trip, and fall at some point in our lives. In some cases, the fault might be entirely yours. In some other cases, the fault might be someone else’s.
As a resident of Brooklyn, New York, you have the legal right to be compensated for the injuries you sustain and the losses you suffer as a result of a slip and fall accident, especially if it is caused by the negligence of the person on whose property the accident took place.
In case of a slip and fall accident, you generally have two options.
- Filing a claim with the property owner’s insurance provider.
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit against the property owner.
In both cases, the outcome of your claim or lawsuit depends on a number of factors, including and especially the state’s laws with respect to personal injuries.
The most notable among these are the statute of limitations (deadline for filing a slip and fall claim) and the shared fault rule (to determine how much of the accident could be attributed to your fault, and adjust your compensation accordingly).
What Should You Do After a Brooklyn Slip and Fall Accident?
Seek Medical Attention
This is, without a doubt, the first thing you need to do. Get yourself thoroughly examined by a doctor and make sure all your injuries are documented.
Even if you have not sustained any injury and feel perfectly fine, a physical examination is absolutely necessary.
In some cases, you might start showing signs of an injury days after the accident. Moreover, you might not feel any pain immediately after the accident due to the adrenaline rush. Only a medical professional can spot the signs of external and internal injuries that might manifest later.
Determine the Cause of the Accident
Try to find out what caused the accident in the first place. Was it due to an object, spillage, or something else? Or is there something structurally wrong with the premises itself?
Document the Accident Scene
Premises liability lawsuits often boil down to a simple question – did the property owner (or the person who was in charge of maintaining the property when the accident took place) know about the hazard which caused the accident?
If the answer to the questions is ‘yes’, your chances of winning the lawsuit are quite high. To prove it, however, you need photographic evidence. So, take as many pictures as needed of the hazard that caused the fall and the accident scene itself.
Speak to Witnesses
Speak to potential witnesses, obtain their contact information, and request their cooperation to build a case against the property owner.
File a Slip and Fall Report
Shopping malls, movie theaters, and other such private properties which are open to the general public allow you to file a report in the event of a slip and fall accident. So, fill out the form and document the injuries you sustained in great detail.
Write It Down
Make sure you write down all the details you remember about the accident, while it is still fresh in your memory. After a few days, you might forget some of the important details, which in turn can affect the outcome of your lawsuit.
So, write everything down – where exactly did you slip and fall? When did it happen? What caused it? Were there people around? What kind of injuries did you sustain? What did the employees have to say about the accident?
The more detailed your report is, the easier it will be for the attorney to build a strong case against the property owner.
The Rule of Comparative Negligence in Brooklyn, NY
If you are thinking of filing a slip and fall insurance claim or lawsuit in Brooklyn, New York, you should know that the state’s comparative negligence rule will play a crucial role in deciding the outcome of your case.
The property owner, against whom you file the lawsuit, is likely to make the argument that you too share the blame for the accident. If he or she is able to prove that the accident happened partly due to your own negligence, your compensation is likely to get reduced, even if you decide to settle the issue out of court.
Given below is a list of possible arguments that the property owner could make against you.
- The part of the property that you were on at the time of the accident is a restricted area where visitors are not allowed.
- You were distracted at the time of the accident (using your phone, talking to someone and not paying attention to where you are going, and so on).
- The footwear you were wearing at the time of the accident was inappropriate or unsafe.
- The area where the accident took place was cordoned off with the help of cones and barricades and the warning signs were clearly visible.
- The hazard that caused the accident was clearly noticeable and you could have easily avoided it, if you had been paying attention.
If, based on the aforementioned arguments, the property owner in Brooklyn manages to prove that the accident was caused partly as a result of your own negligence, the jury will reduce the damages you are entitled to receive – based on the state’s pure comparative negligence rule.
To understand the rule better, let us consider the following scenario.
You accidentally step on a cone, which is placed to cordon off a particular area which is deemed unsafe for visitors.
You slip, fall down, and injure yourself as a result. You file a lawsuit against the owner of the property, seeking damages for the injuries you sustained and the loss of income caused as a result of the accident.
In this case, the jury – based on your description of the accident and the testimony of the witnesses, if any – might decide that you are 40% responsible for the accident, since you failed to pay attention to the cones which were placed to cordon off the area.
If your damages amount to $20,000 (medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and lost income), the jury will reduce it by $8,000 (since you are 40% responsible for the accident) and order the property owner to pay you $12,000.
The same rule applies for out-of-court settlements as well. This is why it is very important to build a solid case against the property owner and prepare counter arguments to nullify any claims made by the other party regarding your role in the accident.
How Liability is Determined under the Law in Brooklyn, NY
When it comes to slip and fall accidents in Brooklyn, the property owner can be held liable for the injuries you sustain and the losses you suffer only if one or more of the following claims are proven to be true.
- The property owner or an employee was directly responsible for the spill, wear and tear, or any other hazard that caused the accident.
- The property owner or an employee was aware of the hazard, but did not do anything to fix it or cordon off the area.
- The property owner or an employee should have been aware of the hazard, because any reasonable person would have been able to notice it and fix it.
The third situation, as you can see, is vaguer than the first two, but it is also the most commonly contested point in slip and fall lawsuits.
In such cases, the jury usually determines the liability of the property owner based on whether or not the steps taken by the owner to keep his or her property safe can be considered ‘reasonable’.
What Constitutes Reasonable Action By a Property Owner?
A property owner’s ‘reasonableness’ is determined based on the effort he or she puts in on a regular basis to maintain the property and keep it clean and safe for the visitors.
As the victim of a slip and fall accident, you can ask the following questions to determine the property owner’s culpability in the accident.
- Had the hazard been there for a long enough period of time that the owner should have noticed it?
- Does the owner inspect and clean the property on a regular basis and do repair work as and when needed?
- Was the slip and fall accident caused as a result of an object on the floor? If so, was there a genuine reason to place the object at that particular spot?
- If the object was placed at that spot for a legitimate reason and if the reason is no longer valid, could the owner have removed the object or at least covered it up to safeguard the area?
- Could the object have been placed in a safer place or at the same spot in a safer manner, without costing the owner an unreasonable amount of money and without inconveniencing the owner or the operator to a great extent?
- Could the owner have warned people of the slipping hazard with the help of warning signs and barriers?
- Was poor or broken lighting a contributing factor to the accident?
Based on the responses to these questions, you can easily determine the owner’s culpability in the accident. You should, at the same time, assess the whole situation carefully and decide whether your own actions could have contributed to the accident.
Statute of Limitations for Slip and Fall Lawsuits in Brooklyn, New York
A statute of limitations is basically a deadline set by the law, within which you can file a lawsuit in a civil court.
Section 214 of New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules states that any person who gets injured as a result of a slip and fall accident on someone’s property has the right to file a lawsuit against the owner of the property within a period of three years. The three-year deadline starts right from the day of the accident.
The same three-year deadline also applies to slip and fall accidents in which you do not sustain any injury, but suffer property damage or loss.
For example, if your expensive cell phone, watch, or any other item gets damaged as a result of the accident, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the property owner.
Ideally, you should consult an attorney and get started with the legal proceedings right after the accident, even if you are confident of reaching an out-of-court settlement.
It can give you more leverage during the settlement discussion. Also, even if a settlement is not reached, you will still have plenty of time to file a lawsuit.
In some cases, the deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit might be extended, depending on various factors. Such cases, however, are exceedingly rare. You can talk to a qualified attorney to find out how the statute of limitations rule applies to your case.
What is the Statute of Limitations for Suing the City of New York?
If you want to file a claim or lawsuit against a government agency in Brooklyn, New York for a slip and fall accident, you have to do it within 90 days.
An NYC premises liability attorney is required to file a Notice of Claim on behalf of you within the stipulated time period. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your right to sue the agency.
Slip and Fall Accidents at Work
Under New York’s workplace injury laws, employees can only receive workers’ compensation in most cases. In some cases, you might be eligible to receive additional damages. These include
- If the accident was caused due to the negligence of someone other than your employer, you can seek compensation from that person.
- If the accident was caused due to defective or unsafe equipment, the manufacturer might be held liable.
- Construction workers who suffer slip and fall injuries are eligible to receive full and fair compensation under the Scaffold Law.
Compensation for Slip and Fall Accidents in Brooklyn
The compensation in such cases is determined based on the following factors.
- Current as well as future medical expenses
- Income loss and reduced earning potential
- Pain and suffering (physical as well as emotional)
- Punitive damages
Contact an Experienced Brooklyn Slip and Fall Attorney Today
Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, & Wolff (RMFW) law firm has successfully represented Brooklynites who sustained injuries or suffered property loss in slip and fall accidents over the years. We have a strong track record of securing favorable verdicts and fair settlements for our clients.
Our attorneys are capable of handling all kinds of personal injury accidents and can make sure that you receive the compensation that you are legally entitled to.
If you or someone you know has sustained injuries or suffered property damage due to a slip and fall accident, get in touch with our attorneys right away. We can analyze your case and recommend the right course of legal action for you.
You can get in touch with our dedicated Brooklyn slip and fall attorneys on 212-697-9280. You can also contact us through our website and schedule a convenient appointment.