Premises Liability Law and Your Rights
You visit other properties all the time. Sometimes you leave your house so that you can visit friends and family, or because you have to run to the store for groceries. No matter where you go, did you know that you have certain rights? You have the right to be kept safe from harm when it comes to the property that you visit. If property owners anticipate that you will be on their property at some point, they have a duty of care to keep you from harm and clear any dangerous conditions from the property. Today we will look at premises liability cases, when they are appropriate, and how you can recover damages in your time of need.
What is Premises Liability Law?
There are legal principles in almost every action that takes place in life. Premises liability laws hold landowners responsible when somebody enters a property and is injured due to hazards. Premises liability cases are usually brought on negligence for a variety of reasons. Perhaps you are bringing a claim because you slipped and fell in a store due to a wet floor that was not cleaned up prior to you entering. Maybe you walked onto a property to retrieve something and you were bitten by the owner’s dog.
There are many other ways that you can be caused harm on a property, as with open swimming pools, guests who mean you harm at a party, broken elevators and escalators, and more. Many people wonder where to turn when they have a premises liability claim, or if their claim will be taken seriously. We can assure you that we will work with you every step of the way to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
Why an Injured Plaintiff Entered the Property
One of the most important questions you will be asked in your case is: Why did you enter the property? Perhaps you were a customer buying something from a business when the accident occurred, or you were a family member invited over to visit somebody as a social guest. Depending on your status on the land as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser, you could have a case.
Trespassers: Plaintiffs that enter a property when they have no express permission to do so
Licensees: Social guests and those who enter land for their own purposes, but are permitted to be there
Invitees: Those who enter a property because they are making a purchase or visiting, such as business customers
Depending on what status you hold, you are owed a certain protection from harm. Believe it or not, even trespassers are able to claim premises liability in some cases. A property owner might believe that they have no legal responsibility to keep trespassers from harm, but this is not always true. What happens in a case where the property owner knows that trespassers wander onto the property? For instance, a trespasser could be a child who is drawn to something known as an ‘attractive nuisance.’
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition on a property that lures children onto the property. Attractive nuisances should either have posted warnings or a fence around the property so that children are not tempted to come onto the property in the first place. Reasons for this include swimming pools, playground equipment, and animals. If a child is drawn to the property for these reasons and they are injured due to a dangerous condition, the doctrine will apply and a landowner could be responsible for injuries. The court will look at some of the following factors:
- Did the landowner have reason to believe that children would be drawn to this hazardous condition?
- Was there a reasonable risk of harm or death from the object on the property?
- Would children understand that there are risks?
- Did the landowner take reasonable precautions to eliminate the hazard?
Of course, premises liability events happen for many other reasons, too. Perhaps a property was not successfully maintained and the property was lacking in many ways, causing a person to trip over a hazardous condition. Maybe there was a lack of security, such as in cases where a property was lacking lights in a parking lot and did not have a proper safe environment to protect them from an assault or mugging event. Perhaps you slipped and fell because there was a dangerous condition on the floor, the property owner knew about it but did nothing to protect you from it. As you can see, there are many cases why premises liability cases come about every year in the U.S.
Did Comparative Fault Play a Role?
Another question that will be asked in your case is: Did you cause your own injuries to some degree? Obviously, nobody wants to experience harm on another person’s property. However, sometimes the property owner will attempt to limit your recovery by applying something known as ‘comparative fault’ in your case. This means that you are partially or fully responsible for the accident on the property. For instance, perhaps you knew that there was a spill on a floor because there was a sign right next to it, but you ignored the sign. Maybe a property owner had a fence around the property to keep an angry dog at bay, but you climbed the fence to enter the property. In these cases, you could be a certain amount responsible for your accident, which means that your recovery could be limited or completely taken from you.
If the property owner is found to be at fault for your injuries, you might be able to recover certain damages as a result. Those who have obtained serious injuries due to premises liability could recover for aspects like medical expenses of the past and future, loss of earning capacity and lost income in the past, physical pain, mental anguish, impairment, and more. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may even be entitled to punitive damages, which are meant to punish the defendant for their behavior. Perhaps a property owner has been told again and again that they must maintain their floors and failed to do so. This is an example of how punitive damages could come into play to stop this behavior.
We are here for you when you have been injured on someone else’s property and need our assistance. At the McGuire Law Firm, we have handled a variety of premises liability cases and want to help you in your time of need. Give us a call today to find out how we can help with your case from start to finish, at 888-352-0624.