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How responsible is the repairman?

New York places premises liability upon landlords and building owners for accidents in their buildings or on their property. They may have to pay compensation to injured parties if they were negligent in dealing with an unsafe condition. In other words, owners are liable for injuries if they knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and failed to properly repair it, cordon it off, or provide appropriate warnings.

There are limits to the parties who may be held responsible for negligence, however. New York courts do not hold a repairman, serving as an independent contractor, responsible for defects that they were not sent to repair. The contractor has to have sole control over the device and played a role with its maintenance.

Independent contractors performing maintenance do not always have to provide warnings. Without a contract binding an independent contractor repair company to provide routine maintenance of machinery or device, the company has no duty to warn the property owner of any alleged defects with the machinery or device.

For example, a repairman acting as an independent contractor who was hired by the landlord to repair the speed of the elevator was not held liable for an injury caused by a defective gate switch. The contractor did not have exclusive control over the elevator, was not engaged to perform ongoing maintenance and was not directed to repair the gate switch.

Persons injured on another person’s property or by a device on that property, such as an elevator or furnace, should seek prompt legal assistance. Legal representation can help victims determine who may be held responsible for any owner or landlord negligence that may have caused serious injuries and other expenses. This representation can also assist injured parties during hearings and settlement negotiations.