In New York, restaurant and bar owners owe a duty to provide reasonable security to those inside their property. If someone is hurt on your property as a result of your negligence, they may file a lawsuit seeking damages for their injuries. Negligent security pertains to dangerous conditions related to third party attacks. In essence, restaurant and bar owners are expected to address foreseeable risks presented by unruly patrons and independent security contractors (“bouncers”). In suits of this nature, the issue of principle concern is whether the owner or employer negligently ignored their duty to eliminate the dangerous condition, or at a minimum, warn their patrons of such condition. Some examples of frequent negligent security cases include: failing to hire trained security guards; failing to illuminate a parking lot; failing to install security cameras; and failing to fix broken locks and windows.
General property negligence can include a failure to maintain one’s premises; correct known defects; or warn of known defects that cannot be timely repaired. Some common accidents are caused by:
- Slippery floors in public premises (e.g. supermarket, tavern);
- Damaged staircases and steps (staircases have their own body of law, because this is so common);
- Broken, cracked or depressed sidewalks, pavement or roadways;
- Attractive nuisances (e.g. child wanders onto another property and falls into their swimming pool);
- Slips due to snow and/or ice;
- Security negligence, (e.g. bouncers, over aggressive security);
- Carbon monoxide exposure in apartment buildings.
Generally, in order for a person to sue and recover against a property owner and/or property manager, he or she must prove that (1) the owner/manager owed a duty to the plaintiff; (2) that the owner/manager breached that duty; (3) that the injury which resulted was proximately caused by the owner/manager's breach of their duty; and, (4) the plaintiff suffers damages (injuries) as a result of insured's breach.
To demonstrate that an owner/property manager had a duty to the plaintiff, he or she must establish that (a) they were legally permitted to be on the property, or alternatively, that the property owner knew that the plaintiff (or others like the plaintiff) frequently entered onto the property, regardless of permission; and (b) that the owner/manager had either actual or constructive notice of the condition. Constructive notice is proved by demonstrating that the hazardous condition was "visible and apparent and...existed for a sufficient length of time prior to the accident to permit the owner/manager to discover and remedy it. Actual notice may be found where an owner/manager created the condition or was aware of its existence prior to the accident.
Please note, that while a landowner is legally required to act as a reasonable person in maintaining his or her property in a safe condition, they are not required to protect or warn against an open and obvious condition. For example, a plaintiff cannot recover for tripping over a ten inch decorative slab in a walkway leading up to a home, because the slab is easily observable to the plaintiff, and therefore poses no undue risk of harm.
If you are the owner or operator of a restaurant, bar, tavern or nightclub in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or the Bronx and have been sued for negligent property maintenance or for providing negligent security, please call an attorney at the DiPasquale Law Group.
Please call Attorney James DiPasquale at (646) 343-4607, for a free consultation.
DIPASQUALE LAW GROUP
James D. DiPasquale, Principal