Close Menu X

How Can We Help?

Is an apartment owner liable when NY man dies in fall off fire escape?

A 30-year-old New Yorker stepped out of his apartment to have a smoke on his fire escape early one morning. The prior evening had been rainy, and the surface was still wet. During his time outside, the man slipped and fell. The fire escape was located off the fifth floor of the apartment building - the fall was fatal.

The tragic accident leaves loved ones wondering what went wrong. Others in similar situations may ask who is liable for these types of accidents? If the fall was the result of a defect on the fire escape, the apartment owner may bear some responsibility in the accident. This would arise under the legal theory of premises liability.

What is premises liability?

Premises liability is, essentially, the requirement that a property owner maintain their property in a safe condition. The use of the property weighs heavily in the court's decision about whether or not to hold the property owner accountable for an injury that occurs on their property. In cases like these, it is not uncommon for courts to allow a tenant to hold a landlord responsible for the accident when a tenant is injured due to a defect within an apartment building.

How does a victim establish premises liability?

In New York, the courts generally require the victim or loved ones address three questions: (1) was there a defective condition, (2) who is responsible for the defective condition, and (3) expert opinions. Courts may require additional information depending on the details of the case.

In this case, the presence of damage to the fire escape could help to establish the first question. Next, the victim will need to show who owns the property and that the owner had either actual or constructive knowledge of the defect that led to the injury. Constructive knowledge means that the owner may not actually know of the defect, but that the defect was visible and apparent, and a responsible owner should have known about the defect. If the case involves building codes, as this one likely would, it is also wise to bring in experts to provide testimony about a potential violation.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Our Awards and Accolades

    • The Best Lawyers in America
    • The National Trail Lawyers | Top 100 | Trail Lawyers
    • Newsweek Leaders In Showcase Personal Injury | 2011
    • Lawyers of Distinction | 2018
    • 2014 | Litigator Awards | Ranked Top 1% of Lawyers
    • Nation's Premier | NAOPIA | Top Ten Attorney | Personal Injury
    • American Law Society | Official Home of America's Top Lawyers
    • Best Lawyers | Best Law Firms | U.S.News & News Report | Rankings
    • New York Law Journal | 2015 Verdicts & Settlements | Hall of Fame | Motor Vehicle | Sakkas, Cahn & Weiss, LLP | Top 20 Verdict
    • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
    • Verdict Search's | Top NY Verdicts
    • Certified
    • National Association of Distinguished Counsel | Nation's Top One Percent | NADC
    • 2016 | Litigation Elite - Top 100 Trail Lawyers
    • Martindale-Hubbell | Distinguished | Peer Rated for High Professional Achievement | 2017
    • Who's who Legal | WWL
    • The National Advocates | Top 100 Lawyers
    • America's Top 100 Attorneys | Top 100
    • The National Trial Lawyers | Top 100 Trail Lawyers
    • Best Lawyers | 2021
    • Super Lawyers
    • Best Law Firms of America | LifeTime Member
    • Avvo | 10.0 | Superb | Top Attorney Personal Injury
Email Our Attorneys

Have Questions? Get A Free Case Review

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy