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Should bowling alley owners be responsible for slip-and-falls?

May 31, 2013 Premises Liability

On behalf of Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP

Those who slip and fall on someone else’s property in New York have the right to sue. This is due to the fact that property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain a safe environment for everyone. When this duty has not been met, and a person is injured due to a slip and fall, the owner could end up slapped with a premises liability lawsuit.

However, a recent legislative proposal aims to decrease the number of slip-and-fall lawsuits filed against bowling alley owners. The idea behind this is that the smoking ban has led to more people going outside with bowling shoes on to smoke. These smokers than bring in elements from the outside — like rain and snow — and then end up slipping and falling.

However, not ones to just let people’s rights be taken away, the Trial Lawyers Association came prepared with many questions about this proposal, which led to the bill being placed on hold for the time being.

The bill would require bowling alley owners to post a sign warning that it is dangerous to go outside with bowling shoes on. In return, if someone did slip and fall after coming in from outside, the person who is injured would not be able to file a lawsuit against the owner of the bowling alley.

In short, if the bill is passed, if a sign is posted, owners cannot be sued when a bowler slips and falls due to a substance — such as ice or water — that was acquired from outside.

Of course though, this type of bill raises many concerns. Not only does it take away a person’s right to sue, but what if someone was injured due to another bowler tracking in rain water from outside? Would this type of loophole lead to employees no longer quickly cleaning up spills? Who would pay for the expensive medical bills that often follow a slip-and-fall accident?

At this point, the bill did not go before the Senate Consumer Affairs Committee as there were questions that still need to be answered.

Source: Albany Times Union, “Proposal right down their alley,” Rick Karlin, May 21, 2013