Defending Against a New York Premises Liability Claim or Lawsuit

wet floor sign, premises liability defenses concept

If you’re a premises liability insurance company in New York, you’ve likely faced some baseless claims. Perhaps some of these have wound up going to court because the injury victim wouldn’t settle. Regardless of whether you’re faced with a claim or a lawsuit, you need skilled legal representation.

That’s where the insurance defense attorneys of Rosenbaum & Taylor come in. These are some possible ways we can craft a winning defense strategy in your premises liability case.

Open and Obvious Property Defects

Premises liability is based on the notion of hazardous conditions, or defects, on the property. But where those defects are open and obvious, the owner may have a defense if someone gets injured.

The existence of an open and obvious defect will always be relevant to a premises liability case. But property owners do have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. It is not settled whether that duty is fully negated by an open and obvious defect. Courts in New York are split on the matter.

If this situation existed in your case, notify a New York insurance defense attorney. Your lawyer will use this information to argue against the plaintiff’s allegations.

Conducting an Investigation and Using Discovery

As a general matter, your New York insurance lawsuit attorney will investigate the facts surrounding the lawsuit. A thorough investigation could uncover details that work in your favor. If the plaintiff cannot prove all necessary elements of a premises liability claim (see below), the case falls apart.

So we look for evidence to defeat his or her claims. We never rely on the word of the plaintiff and we investigate all allegations ourselves.

As part of the evidence-gathering process, we conduct discovery. Discovery is the formal stage of information exchanges between the parties. We will request certain documents and information from the plaintiff to learn the facts that underlie the premises liability lawsuit.

There are a number of discovery tools available, such as:

  • Interrogatories
  • Requests for production of documents
  • Requests for admission
  • Depositions

Defeating the Plaintiff’s Case

Remember, it is up to the plaintiff to prove all elements of a New York premises liability lawsuit. They are:

  • That the plaintiff was lawfully on the property (or a known trespasser)
  • That the property owner was negligent in allowing a hazard on the property (knew or should have known of it)
  • That as a result of the hazard, the plaintiff became injured.

Working with a New York insurance defense attorney, it may be possible to defeat one or more of these elements. For instance, the property owner could show that the victim was an unknown trespasser. Generally, no duty of care is owed to such persons.

The property owner could demonstrate the absence of negligence regarding the property hazard. It may have been one that diligent inspection of the premises could not reasonably uncover. Finally, there may be an argument that something other than the hazard injured the victim.

Refuting any of these elements could defeat the plaintiff’s entire claim, and that’s the ultimate goal if possible.

Negotiating a Settlement

If it becomes clear that the plaintiff has a strong case, your objective may be to settle. Settlement can potentially save you the time and money of a trial. It could also avoid having a jury award a far higher judgment in favor of the plaintiff.

Our New York insurance defense attorneys frequently negotiate and settle premises liability cases on behalf of insurers and property owners. We can discuss whether this strategy may be best to pursue in your case.

Options for Protecting Your Bottom Line

At Rosenbaum & Taylor, we develop custom-tailored approaches to saving our insurance clients in the long run. We’re prepared to create an ample defense of your rights and interests to help settle complex premises liability lawsuits. Give us a call today to learn more.

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