This past July, Anthony Spadafora, a police officer, was hospitalized after falling on a slippery floor in NYPD's Staten Island Narcotics Bureau. The Bureau’s failure to clean up “oil and/or other slippery substances” from the floor cost the City $60,000.
Spadafora’s is among a dwindling number of successful slip and fall cases in New York. These cases are usually very hard to prove and many are dismissed even when the injury was quite serious. In fact, two out of three slip and fall cases in New York are dismissed before going to trial.
Even for slip and fall cases that get to trial, courts tend to favor the property owners. To win, a plaintiff has the burden of showing one of the following:
That the property owner caused the dangerous condition. Common causes include mopping floors with overly sudsy water and failing to post warning signs or barricades. In Spadafora’s case, the area where he slipped was used to store motorcycles which leak oil and other fluids.
That the property owner knew about the dangerous condition. If the property owner saw or was told of the dangerous condition, they had actual “notice” of it.
That the property owner should have known about the dangerous condition. Constructive notice occurs when a condition such as spills, garbage or debris exists for a long enough time for the owner to have found out about it and corrected it. For example, Spadafora’s lawyer successfully demonstrated that the floor had been slippery on prior occasions and that no one had bothered to mop up the spillage.
Simply falling on someone else’s property does not automatically entitle you to collect money from them. Winning a slip and fall case is extremely difficult as the mere presence of floor mats, umbrella stands, or a staff person who routinely sweeps or mops the floors and stairs of the premises all work in the defendant’s favor.
It is therefore crucial to gather evidence quickly (such as photographs and witness statements) and to seek out competent and aggressive legal representation as soon as possible. One misstep could bar your ability to collect damages for your injuries.
Posted in Personal Injury
Tagged New York personal injury attorneys, plaintiff, property owners, slip and fall cases