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Repeats may hold landlords liable

New York law holds landlords and property owner responsible for injuries suffered by individuals who were lawfully their property when the owner or landlord knew or should have known about an unsafe condition and did not properly repair, eliminate it or cordon it off. Property owners may also be liable for injuries in stairway accidents and other mishaps even if they were unaware of a particular unsafe condition, known as a recurring condition, when it occurs periodically.

For example, New York’s appellate court ruled that there may be landlord negligence when a person was injured after falling on debris scattered in the building’s stairway even though there was no evidence concerning the particular piece of debris that caused the accident. The stairwell repeatedly became littered over several days and not just over a period of a few minutes.

The landlord was responsible for taking reasonable precautions for eliminating this situation, according to the Court, such as sweeping the stairs each day. In this case, moreover, the landlord knew about the repeated accumulation of debris in the stairwell.

In another case, the Port Authority could be held responsible for a fall on a stairway that was wet and littered with cigarette butts and paper for 20 minutes even though the inured victim could not specify which particular piece of debris caused her to fall. Evidence does not have to be produced on how long any specific piece debris was present.

Another landlord may be liable for a fall on steps that became wet slippery and was not swept. The plaintiff could not prove that there was any debris on the step where she fell.

Victims of an injury who consider a premises liability lawsuit face many issues of proof concerning the dangerous condition and whether the property owner was aware or should have been aware of the condition or whether it was recurring. Legal assistance should be sought to help assure that the right to reasonable compensation for serious injuries and other losses is protected in a lawsuit.