If you or your loved one have been injured because of another person’s negligence, you may be considering filing a personal injury lawsuit. In New York, victims of another person’s negligence have a right to seek compensation from the person or company who caused their injuries. Personal injury lawsuits cover a wide range of scenarios, from car accidents to medical malpractice. Premises liability cases are a unique type of personal injury case involving an injury caused on another person’s property. Understanding the difference between premises liability and personal liability in New York is important when you are considering a lawsuit.
What is a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Premises liability involves one person becoming injured on another person’s property or at their business location. Under New York law, property owners have a legal duty to use reasonable care to keep their premises safe. They also have a duty to keep the pathways approaching their premises safe for guests and visitors. When landowners fail to keep their property reasonably safe and someone becomes injured on their property, they are responsible for the cost associated with the injury. Premises liability accidents can happen anywhere, but they most frequently occur at the following locations:
- Grocery stores
- Shopping malls
- Retail stores
- Private property
Any accident that occurs on another person’s property could result in a premises liability lawsuit. Many premises liability lawsuits happen because of the following dangerous conditions:
- Uneven flooring
- Wet and slippery floors
- Curled up carpeting
- Potholes in parking lots
- Torn rugs
- Dog bites
- Cluttered walkways
- Chemical exposure
When is a Property Owner Liable?
Proving that you became injured is not always enough to obtain compensation in a premises liability lawsuit. Instead, you will need to prove several different elements. Property owners in New York are not always responsible for every accident that occurs on their property. As the injured party, you will need to prove that the employees breached a duty of care. You will need to show one of the following occurred:
- The property owner failed to inspect for hazards on their property
- The property owner failed to clean up or fix dangerous conditions within a reasonable amount of time
- The property owner failed to warn customers or visitors about a safety risk that the owner could not fix immediately
An Example of a Premises Liability Lawsuit
For example, suppose a clothing retailer owns a two-story building. They are located in an older building with a narrow staircase. Despite knowing that customers have tripped and fallen on their narrow staircase, they refused to install a guardrail or better lighting to make it easier for customers to get up and down the staircase. Customers have also complained about the narrow treads on the staircase, making it difficult to get up the stairs safely. One day, a customer trips and falls on the narrow track, causing a severe traumatic brain injury. In this scenario, the victim could hold the store owner accountable through a premises liability lawsuit.
How are Personal Injury Lawsuits Different?
Unlike premises liability lawsuits, personal liability lawsuits are about a person’s negligence. A person, government agency, or company can be liable for the financial damages caused by their negligence. Everyone in New York has a general duty of care not to cause harm to other people. We must use reasonable care to avoid causing another person’s injury. When another person becomes hurt, the person who caused the injury may be liable. Examples of personal liability can include the following:
- Truck accidents
- Car accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Dog bite accidents
- Injuries caused by assault
Premises liability lawsuits are focused on dangerous and unreasonably unsafe conditions on another person’s property. On the other hand, personal liability is focused on an individual’s own negligent actions. In either case, you will need to prove all of the elements of promises or personal liability to recover compensation through a lawsuit. In both cases, you may be able to file an insurance claim first.
If you have been injured on another person’s property, you can file a claim through their homeowner’s insurance or commercial insurance policy. Likewise, if you are injured in a personal injury accident, such as a car accident, you can file a claim with the at-fault driver, as long as you suffered serious injuries.
Damages You Can Recover in Personal and Premises Liability Lawsuits
The types of damages you can recover are the same in premises liability and personal liability lawsuits. Both of these types of lawsuits fall under the general category of tort law. Under New York’s tort laws, successful plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits are entitled to economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages include any financial costs that are easily quantifiable and associated with your injuries.
For example, economic damages include your past medical bills and compensation for your estimated future medical costs. If you have a severe injury, such as a spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, you could need millions of dollars of medical care in the future. Pursuing damages through a personal injury lawsuit allows you to obtain the compensation you need to pay for the medical treatment you deserve. Economic damages also include medication costs, durable medical equipment, property damage, lost income, and lost earning capacity.
Recovering Non-Economic Damages
In serious injury cases, the damages caused by accidents are not always economical. For this reason, New York courts allow plaintiffs to recover non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include damages for disability, disfigurement, the loss of enjoyment of life, and the pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
When someone else’s negligence or recklessness causes your injuries, they are responsible for paying these costs. Getting the total amount of compensation you deserve is not always easy, but you can protect your rights by working with a skilled lawyer. Contact Stanley Law Offices today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about our legal services.