Knowing what to do following an accident can make all the difference when determining whether you should file a premises liability claim or proceed with a lawsuit.
Consider a scenario in which you are grocery shopping, slip on an unmarked area of the floor that is being cleaned, and injure your leg. You should first report or have someone report the incident to the property manager to have the accident documented. Keep your descriptions concise, ask for a copy of the incident report, but do not sign any documents. If circumstances permit, get a picture of the defective condition and the names and contact information of witnesses.
If you suffered extreme or lingering pain, you could call for an ambulance or visit a doctor. Depending on the severity of the injury, the doctor may advise you to undergo surgery, physical therapy, or prescribe medication. These treatments can be costly and you may want to file a claim to cover the expense, and to compensate for any other damage or pain and suffering. It is at this point when you should consult with a lawyer to discuss the premises liability claim and the strength of a possible lawsuit.
Filing a claim puts the property manager and owner on notice that you are seeking compensation from them due to their negligence. In New York, the statute of limitations on most premises liability claims, like slip-and-falls, is three years from the date of the accident under N.Y. C.P.L.R. § 214(5).
Often, after being put on notice, the property owner’s insurance company or other representative may call you. Refer the representative to your lawyer. It is best not to reveal any details and be aware that they may be recording your statements. Your lawyer will advise you on how to proceed and whether you should communicate with the representative at all.
The lawyer will take several steps to gather evidence supporting your premises liability claim, including:
- Sending a specialist to inspect the premises.
- Requesting and securing video surveillance of the property from the day of the accident.
- Obtaining any medical records, which could include an ambulance or doctor’s report.
- Securing other important information, including witness interviews and even police reports, when applicable.
When you cannot resolve the matter with the company during the claim phase, your lawyer then may file a Summons and Complaint to initiate a lawsuit against the property owner or any other responsible entity.
Premises liability claims against negligent property owners can be intimidating and complex, especially if you are not armed with basic knowledge of what to do if injured. If you or a loved one is injured due to a negligent property owner or manager in New York or New Jersey, contact Sullivan Papain Block McGrath & Cannavo for a free consultation.