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Negligence in a New York premises liability case

If you sustained an injury due to slipping or tripping, you may have the option of pursuing a lawsuit to recover resulting damages. Generally, in order to recover, a plaintiff must show the defendant acted negligently, thereby causing harm to the plaintiff.

In the case of a person who slipped or tripped and fell, figuring out negligence means assessing whether the owner of the premises met his or her duty to the plaintiff and other members of the public.

What duty did the premises owner owe to the plaintiff?

Generally, a person acts negligently when breaching a duty of care he or she owes to the plaintiff. What this duty consists of depends on who the defendant is and the nature of his or her relationship to the plaintiff.

For example, a doctor owes his or her patients an appropriate level of care based on current standards in the field. A driver owes other motorists and pedestrians a duty to follow traffic rules and drive with reasonable safety. The owner of premises owes a duty to authorized visitors to eliminate foreseeable hazards. 

Did the owner act reasonably to warn of or elimnate foreseeable danger?

Just because someone failed to act perfectly does not always mean he or she was negligent. Ascertaining negligence typically means looking at whether or not the defendant acted reasonably under the circumstances.

For example, a shopper in a supermarket slips on some spilled grease and breaks a leg. If the spill happened a bare moment before the accident, it may be unrealistic and unfair to expect the manager to have instantly known about the spill and materialized to get rid of it. On the other hand, if the spill was there for a prolonged time, during which several customers approached supermarket employees to let them know, and no one cleaned it up or posted a conspicuous sign, the likelihood of negligence is greater.

Determining negligence can be a complicated endeavor that can take time. If you sustained an injury due to a fall, you may also be suffering from serious injuries that can show symptoms later, so medical treatment is a must.

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