Have you ever been hurt while on someone else's property? Maybe you slipped and fell on their iced pavement. Or perhaps your loved one suffered a swimming pool accident at the neighbor's house. You may have a claim against the property owner when these fall accidents and other incidents happen.
The difficulty with premises liability law is that many plaintiffs don't want to sue their friend or neighbor. If you get a serious injury inside a grocery store, amusement park, or public building, it's one thing. Your personal injury attorney can file a claim with the building owner's insurance company.
People feel differently when premises liability accidents happen at a friend or loved one's house. If you point out the property owner's negligence, will they stop speaking to you? Nobody wants to destroy a friendship or relationship over an accident.
Here, we'll explain how premises liability cases work and describe your legal rights. This article will also discuss how to find an experienced lawyer.
What Exactly Is Premises Liability Law?
Premises liability is a part of tort law that deals with injuries plaintiffs suffer while on someone else's property. For example, if you are grocery shopping and slip on a wet floor, that would fall under premises liability law. The same is true if you're at a holiday party at your neighbor's house and fall down the stairs.
For the courts to hold the property owner liable, the plaintiff must prove negligence. This is true for most personal injury cases. The best way to do this is to hire an experienced premises liability lawyer.
If your attorney can prove negligence, you'll recover the following types of damages:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical bills
- Property damage (if any)
- Lost wages
- Lost future income
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages
Of course, every case is unique. If you suffer severe injuries and undergo extensive medical treatment, your damage may be higher. When you meet with your personal injury lawyer for your case evaluation, they'll let you know what damages you can demand.
While most people involved in a premises liability case survive, there are times when the victim's injuries are so severe they pass away. If so, your attorney will help your family file a wrongful death suit. The damages are slightly different in that type of case. When you first meet with your personal injury lawyer, they'll explain the damages you can demand in your lawsuit.
Examples of Premises Liability
One classic example of a premises liability suit is when someone sues a store after they slip and fall in an icy parking lot. However, private homeowners may also be involved in premises liability suits when guests get hurt due to the owner's failure to maintain the property properly.
The degree to which the property owner may be liable depends in part on whether the injured person was there as the owner's guest (as in the case of the store's customer), on official business, or without permission. Other factors may include how well maintained the property is, whether the owner warned their guests of the dangerous condition, and how clumsy the guest was.
Some of the common types of premises liability accidents include:
- Slip and falls
- Dog bites
- Negligent security
- Hit in the head with faulty lighting fixtures
As long as your attorney can prove that the defendant didn't properly maintain their property, you should prevail in your premises liability claim.
Why Should You Retain a Premises Liability Lawyer?
After your accident, you may need extensive medical care. Premises liability cases are not much different from car accidents. Most victims suffer broken bones, lacerations, and even traumatic brain injuries. You won't be able to fight with the insurance company in the days and weeks after your accident.
What your attorney will do is handle this for you. They aren't intimidated by the big insurance companies. They have no problem going after the large corporations that own the grocery and department stores.
While you focus on your recovery, your premises liability attorney will try to negotiate your claim. If that isn't possible, they'll prepare to file suit on your behalf. Worst case, your lawyer will also represent you at trial.
Your Attorney Will Challenge Any Defenses Raised by the Property Owner
When you file your lawsuit, the property owner will likely deny responsibility. They may argue that the plaintiff caused the accident. Or they'll say that a plaintiff's injuries aren't as bad as they claimed.
Some of the other defenses the property owner may raise include:
- Trespassing: The defendant may argue that you had no legal right to be on their property. The judge may dismiss your claim if the defendant proves you were trespassing. If your child or family member hurts themselves while on the defendant's property, your attorney can argue that there was an attractive nuisance. An attractive nuisance exists when the defendant has something on their premises that attracts children and others to venture onto their property. For example, if the defendant has a trampoline or pool in their backyard, the judge may deem it an attractive nuisance.
- Reasonable Care: The defendant may claim they took all reasonable steps to protect visitors and guests on their property. For example, the property owner may have paperwork showing that they had their walkway repaired to prevent falls. They may claim that they aren't liable if you slipped and fell.
- No Duty of Care: A common defense raised by property owners in premises liability cases is that no duty of care existed. For example, if the plaintiff was a door-to-door salesperson, the defendant may argue that they had no reason to expect the salesperson to enter their property. If so, they had no duty to protect the plaintiff from dangerous conditions on their property.
Whatever defense the other party raises, your attorney will do their best to challenge and overcome them.
Don't Wait To Retain a Personal Injury Attorney
If you want to recover maximum compensation, you should contact a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident. This way, your attorney can file your insurance claim on time. And, if you need to sue, you won't have to worry about missing the statute of limitations filing deadline.
You want to give your lawyer ample time to prepare your case. You also want to ensure they have time to negotiate with the insurance carrier. If they can settle your case without having to sue, you'll save time and money.
Finding a Lawyer After a Premises Injury Accident
Suppose you or a loved one hurt themselves on broken stairs, an icy walkway, or other dangerous conditions on someone's property. In that case, you may have a claim for a premises liability lawsuit.
Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to get compensation for your injuries and protect your rights.
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