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New York businesses must keep their premises safe

When customers enter a business, they expect it to be safe. When people enter a house, they expect it to be safe. Each expectation is reasonable. And yet that expectation is not always satisfied. When a business owner or a homeowner fails to live up to those expectations, New Yorkers who suffer injuries in the process have legal rights. One option is to file a premise-liability suit.

The success of the suit will depend on several factors. The first is the status of the person entering the business or house. The law recognizes three kinds: invitee, licensee and trespasser. An invitee is a person with an invitation onto the property (like a customer). Next, a licensee is a person who has consent to enter, but does so for their own purpose (such as a social guest). And, finally, a trespasser is a person who has no right to enter but does so anyway. Invitees receive the highest legal protection followed by licensees and then trespassers (who receive minimal protections).

Once the visitor's status has been determined, the next factors to look at are the property's condition and the visitor's action(s). These factors fall into four general categories: (1) what the property is used for; (2) what the situation was when the visitor used the property; (3) how foreseeable the visitor's injures were and (4) how reasonable the precautions taken by the property owner were.

But there is one major exception to rules stated above -- children. If children are likely to enter the property (even as trespassers), then a property owner must put up warnings on the property about anything that might cause serious harm or even death. Swimming areas are a common example.

New Yorkers who find themselves in one of these situations may benefit from discussing their circumstances with experienced premise-liability attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who is Responsible?" accessed on Jan. 23, 2015

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