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Premises liability claims: how they work

In New York and across the U.S., people are injured all the time in unsafe buildings. While many individuals invite the injury through their own unreasonable actions, others are the victims of owners who neglect their duty of care. When the owner is negligent, the entrant could have the grounds to file a premises liability claim.

Unsafe building injuries can occur in commercial properties as well as in other people's homes. Some of the most common factors in injuries are slippery floors, broken stairs, cracks in the pavement, inadequate lighting or security and falling objects.

Whatever the cause, victims are encouraged to get immediate medical help for their injuries so as to avoid any counterclaims that their injuries aren't as serious as they claim. They should also try and file a police report or, if the owner of the property has an official procedure for it, an incident report. Two important facts must be established when filing a claim: who was negligent and the entrant's classification.

Entrants are categorized as invitees, licensees or trespassers. The last classification is self-explanatory, but child trespassers are an exception and may thus be eligible for compensation. Invitees enter a property both for their benefit and the owner's, such as business patrons, while licensees enter only for their personal benefit, like someone entering a business simply to use the bathroom.

As it can be difficult to file a premises liability claim on one's own, legal representation is always recommended. Personal injury attorneys normally have an in-house team of investigators who can gather evidence like incident reports and security footage to show how the owner breached his or her duty of care. For example, an owner may have failed to put up warning signs on a wet floor. Afterwards, a lawyer can negotiate a settlement or take the case to court.

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