Articles Posted in Slip and Fall

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Every once in a while, we are asked by counsel already assisting an injured client, to come in and provide further legal assistance and support.  Such was the case this past week when the firm resolved a case for a man who was 64 years old working at a building inspector the  NYC Housing Preservation Department.  On January 16th, 2014 he was inspecting apartments in a Brooklyn walk up.  He spent time going over the apartment conditions with a particular tenant.  As he left the apartment and began to descend the staircase he caught his foot at the top landing on a defective edge of the step landing as well as missing landing tile.

He fell down the flight of stairs and was immediately helped by the same tenant who called 911.  Sadly he suffered from a very serious shoulder surgery which resulted in him undergoing a reverse hemiarthroplasty which is a procedure where the normal ball and socket replacement is reversed and the ball is screwed into the humerus  and the socket is drilled into the shoulder joint.  This leaves extensive limited range of motion.

The client and his wife retained a lawyer in their neighborhood who practiced in several area.  She did an excellent job working on the case in the beginning few months.  The lawyer and the client then realized this matter would require more legal expertise in the field as well as a firm ready willing and able to take this matter to trial if needed.

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When Lt. Brendan Connolly a New York City Firefighter was responding to a local emergency, the dangers of being a firefighter were always in the back of his mind.  Smoke, trapped locations, innocent victims needing help.

However, the roads of New York City are often so dilipadated and filled with potholes and ruts that when his fire truck hit a recurring defect in a city street of Cypress Hills, Queens his life would change forever.

As reported here in the New York Post, Lt. Connolly fractured his spine and has been rendered disabled from working because of a sinkhole that has been recurring.  Neighbors report that this problem has been recurring for years.  Yet, the ability to legally recover against the City of New York for this defect is fraught with many hurdles.  Some nearly impossible to overcome.

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Our client, a truck driver from Massachusetts, was making a delivery at a local New York grocery store and sustained an injury his ankle. At the time of the accident, while he was walking backwards using a hand truck he tripped and fell over a U-Boat, which is a cart used by grocery stores to stack product after it is delivered.

Leav & Steinberg was able to establish that the defendant’s employees had placed the U-Boat in our client’s path prior to the fall. This case had been rejected by other law firms who felt that the client’s comparative negligence was the sole proximate cause of the accident.

Through our efforts we were able to establish that the defendant was responsible for directing the path our client was to take while making his delivery. Thus, a jury could have found the grocery store negligent.

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Appeals coming to fruition now were in the making long before 2015 arrived and the New York Appellate Courts have already decided thirty or so snow and ice cases this year. Many more will be coming. As we prepare for the next big storm that’s coming, let’s examine some general legal issues. For purposes of this blog, we will stick to the basics and not assess each and every fact in detail (quite unlike what this firm does when prosecuting real cases). We will also point out the major caveat that each and every case is unique. A case’s existence and outcome will vary based on a multitude of factors that will not be fully explained in this blog.

Envision this. You are a young attorney who is preparing for trial. On your way to the office last Saturday morning, you slip on the marble floor of your large office building lobby, sustaining serious injuries. Unfortunately for your injuries, there is no case. A vestibule floor that was inherently slippery due to its smoothness is not an actionable defect. See e.g. Beceren v. Joan Realty, LLC, 2015 NY Slip Op 00324 (2nd Dept. 2015).

Next scenario. It’s still Saturday. You receive a surprise flower delivery, but since your office is technically closed and the firm’s secretary is not working, you go down to the lobby to get it. Unbeknownst to you, before you arrive on the scene, the delivery man spills water from the vase onto the floor. You slip on it, sustaining serious injuries. Here, you could establish fault of the flower delivery man and/or the building officials if you can show that they created the spill or had sufficient notice of the wet condition that caused the slip and reasonable time to clean and/or warn. See e.g. Weiss v. Gerard Owners Corp., 22 A.D.3d 406, 803 N.Y.S.2d 51 (1st Dept. 2005).

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Sustaining an injury, whether it is a slip and fall or a car accident or something else entirely, can be a scary and confusing time. For many people, sustaining a serious injury is among the lowest points in their lives. It can be particularly confusing when someone else is at fault for your injury. While no one wants to think about bringing a lawsuit immediately after an injury occurs, it is in your best interest to prepare as though a lawsuit will occur.

First, you need to make sure that your medical needs are taken care of. It will not do you any good to start any of the other steps if you have not ensured that your medical needs are met. In fact, it may hurt your lawsuit if you neglect your medical needs, as the defendant could argue that your injuries were increased by a failure to seek immediate medical attention.

Evidence

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Every day, thousands and thousands of people go to the grocery store or corner market to buy food and other items that they need for daily life. For the most part, these visits are the same. People enter the store, pick out the items they wish to purchase, check out at the cash register and then leave the store to go home and enjoy their purchases. However, not every visit to the grocery store is without incident, as there are dangers inherent to grocery stores, some hidden and some are more obvious.

Some may sneer at these sorts of incidents, but the fact remains that premise liability incidents occur frequently and local residents are hurt all the time as a result.

As most people know, grocery stores stock produce for customers to purchase. Most produce displays are set up in a way to be attractive to the consumer, without regard to safety. It does not take much for a piece of fruit, like a grape, to get knocked off the display and end up on the floor. Once the grape is on the floor, it becomes a slipping hazard. When a grape is squashed, it becomes slippery and may be enough to cause a customer to slip and fall.

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As a New York premises liability attorney, I am all too familiar with the following scenario: It is late at night, you are walking home from work. You trip and fall due to a dangerous and defective sidewalk and fall face forward with your hands out. You land hard on your right arm. First reaction is not to lie there until someone comes to find and help you. The first logical thing most would do is get up and 1) try and see if you are bleeding and if not 2) continue home as its late, dark and likely no one around. At that point you may think you can walk it off or that the pain will simply go away. One may feel shaken or embarrassed and will leave the scene without making a report or advising any responsible party of the accident. Hours or even a few days later one may realize the severity of the injury which may ultimately require significant medical care.

Though leaving the scene is a normal reaction, the lack of documenting your presence at the scene of the accident, has become a potent defense for the responsible party. They will often say that the injured party’s claim that they fell where and when they say they did should be rejected since there was no affirmative proof that they reported the accident as soon as it happened.

The City of New York has set up a telephone switchboard system in order to report accidents or dangerous conditions even after one has been injured and left the scene. You can simply dial 311or find out more information on the City of New York 311 website. The service provided will take down the date, time, location and specifics of the accident and will provide a complaint number which will be kept on file with the City of New York.