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Who Is to Blame With Comparative Liability?

If you enter someone’s property, whether it is as a guest, to do business with them or for another legitimate reason, you have reasonable expectations that you won’t be injured.

Business and property owners have the responsibility to maintain a safe and hazard-free environment. As a legal theory, this falls under the category of “premises liability.” Claims can arise from being injured in a store when a display comes tumbling down, slipping and falling on a sidewalk slick with ice and many other incidents.

The state of New York recognizes comparative negligence as an affirmative defense to premises liability. As such, victims who are partially to blame for their own injuries reduce the liability of the responsible party by whatever percentage the court determines they were responsible. For instance, if a store display toppled down and injured you as you walked past the aisle, the store owner would be responsible for your injuries.

But if a display of canisters came crashing down on your head while you stood on the lowest shelf trying to reach something, you might be found 50 percent responsible. Whatever damages you are awarded would be slashed in half.

This concept can become quite complex, especially if multiple defendants are identified. As the burden of proof of liability rests with the plaintiff, proving the degree of liability of each defendant requires a level of skill and legal knowledge few laymen possess.

If you file a claim for damages in a premises liability case and wind up getting the runaround from the business owner or his or her insurer, you may need to consult a legal professional for assistance with the successful resolution of your claim.

Source: Findlaw, “Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?,” accessed Jan. 29, 2016