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Proving responsibility in premises liability cases

Whether you accept the consensus of weather scientists about climate change, one thing is not in dispute. Winter in the United States is shorter than it used to be. This fact has made headlines recently. Data from more than 100 years of record keeping and compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proves that first frosts are happening about one month later than a century ago. At the same time, the last frosts of spring are coming earlier than they did in 1916.

What has not changed is that winter in New York can be hazardous. If street and sidewalk surfaces aren't properly maintained, catastrophic slip-and-fall injuries are a real risk. If you are injured due someone else's negligence, you owe it to yourself to consult an experienced attorney to understand your rights regarding compensation.

Of course, it is not enough to simply claim someone else is liable for your injuries. Everyone has taken a tumble at some point in life. To seek compensation through civil action, you must prove fault. Skilled personal injury practitioners know insurance companies will fight back, making this a complicated endeavor.

Clearing the hurdle

If the worst-case scenario should develop, the first question to answer is whether the situation could have been avoided. If you trip on a tool that might be expected to be out, such as a shovel in winter, you might not have a claim. It might be argued you failed to exercise proper awareness of your surroundings. However, if that shovel is invisible because of a fresh blanket of snow, liability might attach.

To make a legal claim, proof of one of the following would likely be required:

  • That any reasonable person should have known that the dangerous condition existed and that it should have been fixed
  • That the property owner or some responsible employee of the premises knew the hazard was there and did nothing about it
  • That the landowner or an employee caused the hazard to exist

Most cases of this kind get resolved outside of court but if going to trial is necessary, you want to be confident that the attorney at your side is ready to take the matter all the way to achieve an optimal settlement.

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