New York property managers, service firms and building maintenance contractors may attempt to protect themselves from being held liable for their actions or incidents related to the premises they maintain. Although these parties may request that their tenants and patrons agree to official indemnity contracts as a condition of using their services, individuals or companies that rely on self-exempting clauses don’t necessarily have the legal grounds to escape liability.

According to N.Y. Code Section-5-323, any contract or agreement wherein a contractor exempts themselves from liability for injuries caused by their own negligence is to be considered void. In addition to applying to formal real property contracts and covenants, this rule also makes specific mention of understandings related to such an agreement. It may be possible that those who sustain injuries after committing to verbal or implied indemnity agreements still have some form of legal recourse. Notably, this law also nullifies agreements that exempt contractors from being held responsible for the negligence of their subordinates, and it applies to work related to construction as well as general maintenance or repairs.

Various factors impact who is deemed liable for an individual’s injuries following accidents such as a slip and fall, and state laws also play a part. While the actions of the injured party are taken into account, the material condition of the property itself and the way the location is managed are also important.

Premises liability cases can be made more complicated when those at fault attempt to escape responsibility. Without an understanding of their legal entitlements and applicable laws, victims who sustain injuries could even be discouraged from pursuing recompense. Working with a knowledgeable legal advisor may make it easier to choose a more effective course of legal action.

Source: Findlaw, “Section 5-323: Agreements exempting building service or maintenance contractors from liability for negligence void and unenforceable“, October 09, 2014

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