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How to Avoid Premises Liability Lawsuits During the Holidays

Seth Harris

Last modified on December 1, 2023

How to Avoid Premises Liability Lawsuits During the Holidays

Whether you own a home, business, or both, you may invite many guests to your property for the holidays. You should know your legal responsibilities when doing so. Under New York City’s premises liability laws, you have a duty to keep your property free from hazardous conditions for the safety of your guests and other visitors.

Achieving this goal may be more complex than usual when your properties are crowded. Large crowds increase the chances that accidents will occur. To avoid premises liability lawsuits this time of year, keep the following tips in mind:

Invest in Snow Clearing and De-icing Equipment

A property owner is responsible for promptly clearing snow and ice from their parking lots, driveways, walkways, and other such surfaces. According to the City of New York, property owners also must:

  • Remove snow and ice from the sidewalks in front of their properties. They must create paths at least four feet wide when doing so.
  • Clear snow and ice to create paths to crosswalks if their properties are on corners.
  • Remove snow from bus stops and fire hydrants in front of their properties.

Make sure you have shovels, de-icing agents, and any other tools you’ll need on hand. You don’t want to scramble to purchase them if an unexpected storm hits the region.

Hire Seasonal Help

One of the best ways to avoid premises liability lawsuits during the holidays as a retail store owner is to hire seasonal employees. If your store gets busy this time of year, guests may be at greater-than-average risk of being hurt in slips and falls or similar accidents.

Such accidents often occur because of hazardous conditions store ownership or employees fail to address promptly. For example, in a crowded store, it’s easy for guests to knock items onto floors.

Other guests can trip over these items if employees don’t remove them. Hiring extra employees during the holidays ensures more people are watching out for hazards on your behalf.

Another frequent hazard in wintry conditions is wet floormats or floor surfaces just inside the front door. These are a slipping hazard when ice and snow are tracked in. Having an employee whose duties include frequent mopping or clearing of these areas can reduce the slip and fall accidents that could occur here.

Thoroughly Review Holiday Decor Instructions

Decorating your products with holiday light displays and other such decor isn’t just a way to get into the spirit of the season. If you own a business, such displays can also help your business stand out among the competition.

Remember to carefully review any safety information that accompanies your lights and decor. Sometimes, holiday light displays can lead to fires. Make sure any cords are properly corralled and kept away from walkways so they don’t pose a tripping hazard.

Check Outdoor Lighting

Snow and ice aren’t the only hazards that can lead to trip-and-fall or slip-and-fall accidents in the outdoor areas of your property. Navigating a walkway or parking lot at night can be very challenging with inadequate outdoor lighting.

Confirm your outdoor lighting is sufficient to keep guests safe. Install additional lighting or upgrade your current lighting fixtures if it isn’t.

Control Kitchen Access

Your kitchen may be home to no shortage of potential hazards when you’re cooking for a large group during a holiday celebration. Examples may include open flames, sharp kitchen tools, spills, raw food, and more.

To avoid premises liability lawsuits, control who does and doesn’t have access to the kitchen. Keeping this room off-limits to people who aren’t actively helping with prepping food can also help you focus more on cooking while it reduces the number of people who could be harmed by accident.

Check Your Property for Hazards More Often

How to Avoid Premises Liability Lawsuits During the Holidays

One way to avoid premises liability lawsuits any time of year is to regularly inspect your property for hazards. During the holidays, inspect it more often than you normally would. Being a little more vigilant than usual this time of year can go a long way toward preventing accidents.

Contact an NYC Premises Liability Attorney

Taking these steps can help you avoid premises liability lawsuits during one of the busiest times of the year. Unfortunately, you might get hurt during the holidays if another property owner isn’t as cautious and responsible as you are.

You may be eligible for compensation if you sustained harm due to a property owner’s negligence. Learn more about your options by discussing your case with an NYC premises liability lawyer. Our team at Harris, Keenan & Goldfarb is on hand to offer the representation you deserve now.

Or perhaps someone has filed a premises liability lawsuit against you. This can happen even if you take steps to avoid such lawsuits. If so, we can offer the defense you need. Get started by contacting us online or calling us today at 800-PAIN-LAW for a free case review.

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A Brooklyn jury awarded Mr. Vargas $17.5 million for the City of New York’s violation of his civil rights for failing to provide him medical care while in custody. The jury found that the police officers involved failed to provide the necessary medical treatment and awarded $17.5 million to Mr. Vargas.



Harris Keenan & Goldfarb partners Seth Harris and Sheri Holland obtained a $4,730,398.00 jury verdict on behalf of our client who tripped and fell at a private apartment building in the Bronx, suffering a broken foot that developed a very painful, permanent neurological condition called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (“RSD”).



A Bronx jury awarded John Doe over $12 million for an accident on a construction site. John Doe was working when a piece of scaffold weighing 35 pounds fell, striking John Doe in the lower back. John Doe suffered a herniated disc requiring surgical removal of a portion of the disc and permanent nerve damage.



A Bronx jury awarded $10.5 million to the mother of Malcolm Ferguson, who was wrongfully shot and killed by the New York City Police Department. The police officer, Louis Rivera, also a defendant in the case, was found to have used excessive force in violation of Malcolm Ferguson’s civil rights as protected under the United States Constitution.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff William Cardoza $4 million for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Mr. Cardoza was pepper-sprayed and repeatedly hit with a police nightstick. As a result, Mr. Cardoza sustained injuries to his hand and finger.



The firm’s client, a 33-year-old teacher’s assistant, was scalded by an espresso machine that exploded while the defendant’s employee was demonstrating how the machine worked. The client was a customer at the defendant’s coffee shop on the date of the accident and suffered first-degree burns to her right (dominant) hand.



The firm represented the mother- decedent and her infant son. During the decedent’s admission to the defendant hospital, the defendant dispensed anesthesia during an epidural to the decedent in an inadequate manner. The mother-decedent suffered personal injuries and wrongful death due to the defendant’s failure to properly administer epidural anesthesia.



Mr.Brennan fell from approximately 25 feet while working on a construction project. He suffered a shattered bone in his right leg requiring surgery and hardware placement. Mr. Brennan also suffered two fractures in his facial bones, and a dislocated finger requiring surgical repair.



The firm’s client was a child with cerebral palsy who was injured as a result of medical malpractice. The firm’s clients claimed improper management of pregnancy, labor, and delivery resulting in brain damage, and received a Brooklyn personal injury settlement.



The firm’s client, a 63-year-old mentally incompetent man, slipped and fell in his own urine while attempting to walk to the bathroom at the defendant’s senior citizen home. The client fractured his hip and as a result is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. The client claimed that the staff of the home failed to properly care for him, and the jury awarded $1,677,835.



The firm’s client, a 47-year-old male, slipped and fell on a public sidewalk in the Bronx. It had snowed four to five days prior to the date of the accident, and the sidewalk was covered with ice. The client suffered a lumbar fracture and a herniated disc. The jury found the city liable and awarded the client a $2,995,000 personal injury settlement in the Bronx.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Luis Molina $2.61 million for injuries sustained when he fell down a subway station stairway. Mr. Molina was caused to slip and fall as a result of a plastic bag that had blown onto the steps from a street opening. As a result of the fall, Mr. Molina suffered a herniated disc and a tear of his right shoulder’s rotator cuff. The jury found that the NYC Transit Authority was liable for the accident.



A Bronx jury awarded Ms. Colon $2.25 million for a trip and fall accident. Ms. Colon was caused to fall when she moved to the right to allow another pedestrian to pass, and her foot rolled to the outside due to the sidewalk being unlevel with the adjoining grass. The jury found the defendant liable and awarded Ms. Colon $2,253,714.00 for her pain and suffering.



A Brooklyn jury awarded Arvella Floyd $1.9 million for a fractured wrist which required multiple surgeries, including an open-reduction internal fixation and a carpal tunnel release. Ms. Floyd was injured when the hot water knob of the shower fell off after numerous complaints to the superintendent, and scalding water spewed toward her, causing her to
fall and break her wrist.



A Bronx jury awarded plaintiff Juanita Young $1,350,000 for injuries caused by the use of excessive force during an arrest. During the arrest, Ms. Young, who is legally blind, was handcuffed from behind, with her children watching, and taken to the top of the stairs to exit the building. The officer proceeded to push her down the stairs multiple times.

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I first crossed paths with Seth Harris when serving jury duty many years ago. He was so professional and personable, that when my mom was seeking legal counsel for medical malpractice, I told her she had to reach out to his firm. We had meetings with a few different firms, but Harris Keenan & Goldfarb was the only firm that did not try to get us to sign paperwork before even meeting. They took the time to listen and understand our situation before we signed anything, and they were transparent and responsive the whole time. I would like to give special thanks to Samantha Walton, Marla Stein, Val Wallace and Seth Harris for helping my mom through this tough time. They were honest and upfront, and even though Seth Harris wasn't personally on the case, he took the time to meet with us and give us his thoughts on it.
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