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Negligent party disappears Premises Liability

Discussion in 'Accidents, Injuries, Negligence' started by queensgirl, Aug 24, 2006.

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  1. queensgirl

    queensgirl Law Topic Starter New Member

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    In a rented commercial property the tenant (a service business to the public) did not have any liability insurance. An injury occurred in this store. Lawyer for the injured party stated that the owner of the property is not responsible for the defect in the property, because there was no "notice" to him that there was a defect, and that in NYC renters of commercial property do not have to have liability insurance.(?) I don't understand why the owner of the property would not be held responsible? It is still his property. The renter just took off and closed up everything, just disappeared.
     
  2. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    Let me ask you this -- how did the injury occur?

    My understanding is this regarding premises liability and it may not be perfect but here goes: A land owner must act reasonably in maintaining his property in a reasonably safe condition in view of all of the circumstances, including (1) the likelihood of injury to others, (2) the seriousness of the injury, and (3) the burden of avoiding risk. He/she can't just shut his eyes to regular maintenance and inspection and must perform them periodically. The duty of reasonable care extends to both landlords of residential and commercial property.

    Now the lessee could do all sorts of things with the property that could make the premises unsafe. It should not be the landlord's responsibility to police the lessee every moment of the day. However, if notice is given to the landlord that the lessee is creating an unsafe condition, then the landlord would bear responsibility if he/she does nothing about it.

    Generally there may be factors to see whether there is liability in a case regarding liability of a landowner:
    • Circumstances which the person entered the premises (why did they enter?)
    • Foreseeability or possibility of harm
    • Whether there was a duty to inspect, repair or warn
    • Reasonableness of the inspection or repair or warning
    • Opportunity and ease of repair or correction.

    In your instance, was it reasonable to assume the landlord should be responsible for the injury? For example, if the store owner didn't clean up banana peels that were left on the floor, should the landlord bear the responsibility for the acts of the person who rented and operated the store? It may not make sense intellectually to impute "strict" liability on the land owner in this instance...
     

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