Premises liability is a specific branch of personal injury law where the victim is injured on someone else’s property— whether it belongs to a business or an individual. Owners have a certain amount of responsibility to ensure the safety of visitors, but not all accidents are the fault of the owner. Premises liability law is the guideline by which these cases are decided.
Premises liability can include injury and illness caused by the following:
- Animal attacks
- Asbestos exposure
- Amusement park accidents
- Carbon Monoxide exposure
- Elevator and escalator issues
- Inadequate lighting
- Lack of security
- Maintenance negligence
- Malfunctioning appliances or equipment
- Roadway and sidewalk defects
- Slips and falls
- Snow and ice
- Swimming pool accidents
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
- Water damage, leaks, or flooding
Duty Of Care, Negligence, And Fault
Property owners have what is known as a “duty of care” to people on their property. The level of duty owed varies by type of visitor. Invitees, for instance, have a higher level of trust in the property and thus a higher level of owed safety. A trespasser, by contrast, is not owed a reasonable expectation of safety as they are in an area they should not access. One exception to a trespasser is whether the area was clearly marked for their avoidance.
Negligence regarding safety issues means the property owner knew there was an issue and ignored it or did not properly respect the consequences of something (such as a resource guarding dog around children, or heating coffee beyond safe levels before serving it to customers). Proof of negligence means that the property owner is even more liable for the victim’s damages and will owe more in compensation.
Determination of Fault can be simple if the incident takes place at an individual’s home. Other properties get more complicated. If you slip on a loose rug in a store, is it the store’s responsibility or the cleaning company that just placed the rugs? If an outlet is faulty and leads to shock, does that fall on the landlord or the occupying store’s general manager? These questions generally need a thorough investigation to answer; this investigation is best handled by a personal injury lawyer working with your best injury in mind. All potential at-fault parties want to protect themselves and will find any reason they aren’t responsible. A premises liability lawyer will get to the bottom of matters while navigating applicable laws.
Damages And Compensation
Personal injuries can have a wide array of results. Lost income, mounting medical bills, and more can result from an accident. And if that accident wasn’t your fault, and was due to the actions of another, then you are entitled to compensation. Compensation is calculated through resulting costs and damages. To ensure you get the best settlement, and that your rights are respected, we recommend hiring a personal injury lawyer and working closely with them to calculate an ideal number and then negotiate a settlement— this lawyer can also represent you should the wrongdoer refuse to pay and force you into a lawsuit.
The severity of the accident and the negligence of the property owner will play key roles in calculating compensation, especially through a court case. Documentation is key. Once the victim has received initial medical care for their injury, they need to start gathering evidence. Medical bills and statements, medical records, a police report if applicable— all of this will help build your case. Should you hire an attorney, they will help you gather your evidence.
Top Reasons For Retaining A Lawyer
Premises liability and personal injury law can be a bit of a minefield for the inexperienced. State legislation varies, which massively affects liability, evidence, damages, and compensation. For example, in Chicago, a claimant will be faced with comparative negligence. In a settlement or court case, those calculating damages will look at both the property owner and the victim and divide fault into percentages. The victim’s fault is then subtracted from the calculated compensation.
Imagine the victim is reading something on their cellphone while out on a walk and trips on rubbish their neighbor left on the sidewalk. The victim is partially responsible for the accident, though the neighbor should be maintaining their property. So the victim is, let’s say, for example, 25% responsible. Now, let’s imagine they broke their phone and their nose, smashed up their face and wrist, and couldn’t work for a few days. Compensation was calculated at $10,000 for medical bills, lost income, and a new phone. Since the victim was 25% responsible, then 25% of $10,000 is deducted and they receive $7,500 instead.
Another variable that can lower compensation is a stickler insurance adjuster. It’s their job to spend as little money as possible. Unrepresented victims often don’t fully understand the law or their rights and will accept lowball offers. The victim may also be focused on recovery or caring for their loved ones who were also impacted.
All of the above is evidence in favor of retaining a premises liability lawyer to assist with your claim. They know the state and federal laws like the backs of their hands, and they are experienced in negotiating the best settlement for their clients. Even better, they do not charge their clients unless they settle successfully or win the court case.
Finding The Right Lawyer
When you’re already focused on recovery, documentation, and your daily life, the idea of finding a good lawyer can seem overwhelming. A quick Google search in your area will reveal pages and pages of results. How do you choose? Most law firms will offer free consultations. Sit down and speak with someone from the law firm. If you’re going to be trusting an attorney— and spending potentially hours with them —you want to make sure you get along. Exemplary law firms can show you proof of successful settlements. Outside awards and reviews can also vouch for specific firms and help you come to a decision. Use all of the above to guide you in finding a lawyer to ensure you get the best results.