Injured on Someone Else's Property: Can You Sue?
When you're injured on someone else's property, the owner of that property may sometimes be held liable for your damages.
Generally, a legal doctrine known as premises liability makes the owner of property liable for damages caused by conditions on that property. But whether an injured person is able to recover for his or her injuries from a property owner depends on a number of different factors.
What should you know about suing for injuries on another person's property? Here are a few important considerations:
- Were you trespassing? In claims brought by injured persons against the owner of property, whether the injured person was on the property with the permission of the owner will determine the level of reasonable care the owner is required to maintain. However, even a trespasser may be able to recover for injuries in certain circumstances.
- Who is the property owner? Another important factor in injury claims is whether the owner of the property is an individual or a government entity. Injury claims against the government may be affected by federal or state tort claims acts which generally limit the government's liability in injury lawsuits.
- Was there a violation of the law? An injured person may be more likely to show the property owner was negligent if it can be shown that the owner was violating a law and that violation caused his or her injury. For example, in Massachusetts, property owners are required to clear snow from their property under state law. A property owner who fails to do so may be more likely to be found negligent if someone slips and falls on accumulated snow or ice.
- Did the property owner fail to remedy a known dangerous condition? Even when no laws were broken, a property owner may be found to have been negligent if he or she failed to remedy a known condition on a property, and that condition caused a person's injury. Although laws vary by state, generally property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to those on their property.
- Were you partially at fault? An injured person's own fault in causing his or her own injury may have an effect on the potential for a successful lawsuit. In most states, even a person who is partially at fault for causing his or her own injury may still recover for the portion of damages attributable to the other party, as long as that person was equally or more responsible for causing the injury.
If you have suffered an injury on another person's property, a personal injury lawyer can help explain your legal options. Learn more about personal injury lawsuits at FindLaw's section on Accident and Injury Law.