Many people commonly associate premises liability with “slip and fall” cases, but premises liability cases include a wide range of situations from dangerous conditions to unsafe methods of operation and various other scenarios where liability may be imposed on the owner of the premises where the injury occurred.
Premises liability is a classification of cases that includes any situation that is the result of a dangerous or hazardous condition on the premises of someone else’s home or place of business. A premises liability case may be sought against the property owner or renter and in some cases against both.
What is a Dangerous Condition?
Property owners are responsible for dangerous and hazardous conditions they may know about, should have known about, or failed to correct and/or about which they failed to adequately warn. A dangerous condition may be a staircase that needs fixing or an uneven floor or too much snow and ice on the premises. The dangerous condition may be hidden, but one in which the owner should have reasonably known.
For instance, if the property owner did not know about a dangerous condition, but should have known through routine maintenance and repair. If the owner knows of the dangerous condition, it is his duty to protect others from that danger and may require the owner to fix the danger.
It is important to understand that the property owner is under no obligation to protect you from dangers that are obvious and reasonably expected. It is expected that people will employ common sense in obvious situations.
What Should I do if I am injured while on Someone Else’s Property?
First and foremost, if you are injured on someone else’s property you should seek whatever degree of medical care is necessary for your injuries. Whether that requires a trip to your medical doctor or the emergency room, it is essential to seek medical care immediately since the severity of injuries is not always apparent.
It is vitally important that you are aware of statues of limitations within your state. These statutes must be met within a valid time frame for your claim to be valid or it risks being barred. This is one of many reasons it is important to consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to preserve your rights.
In addition to seeking medical care, taking pictures is also important. Along with getting the names and contact information of any person that may have witnessed your injury or has knowledge of the dangerous condition. Most people have a camera on their cellular phone, making it even easier for you to take pictures. Take advantage of the technology that is on your side.
Also, record the names of any individual that can describe the conditions of the floor, lighting and other factors at the time of the incident or immediately following the incident. It is crucial to your safety and potential lawsuit to document and keep records of anything and everything you can!
If you are injured while on the premises of a business, in most cases the store manager or security officer will make an incident report. Before you leave the premises, be sure you have a copy of the incident report BUT do not sign it.
What Should I Not do if I am Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
Avoid providing any statements to the premises owner and do not sign any statements or incident reports. We can not stress this enough. Do not say anything that would imply fault on your part.
In many cases, following a premises liability accident a claims adjuster will contact you to get more information about your injuries. Again, do not give a statement to anyone that contacts you. First, consult with a personal injury attorney that specializes in premises liability cases and will be able to advise you accordingly. Many adjusters are trained to try and persuade you to settle the claim immediately and sign a release, talk to a lawyer first.
What Will I Need to Prove Premises Liability?
Each and every premises liability case is based on different factors. However, below are some tips to help build your case:
Photos – Take photographs of the scene that display the dangerous or hazardous condition immediately.
Witness Information – Gather names and contact anyone that may have witnessed the incident. You can never have too many witnesses, talk to anyone and everyone that may have saw the accident.
Evidence – Preserve evidence such as shoes and clothes that were being worn when the incident occurred. Items should be secured and stored without being washed, cleaned, or changed in any way.
Copies of Any Report – Copies of the incident report are very important, but even more important - Do Not Sign anything or make any statements before contacting a lawyer.
Medical Records – Proof of Injuries and damages is important and will include medical records from the doctor who treated your injuries. Keep any and all receipts of any out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the incident such as a prescription or any medical equipment.
Do I need a Premises Liability Personal Injury Lawyer?
Many cases may be premises liability cases may be handled without a lawyer. However, we advise you to seek legal counsel before making the decision yourself. Most lawyers offer a free consultation so that you may ask questions and determine if you have a premises liability case. You have nothing to lose by contacting a lawyer and potentially everything to gain.
In most personal injury cases, the attorney works on a contingency fee, which means, unless there is a settlement, you will not owe your attorney any fees.
KEY STRATEGY - There are strict time limits for providing notice of injuries and for filing lawsuits in a premises liability case, it is crucial that you contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Having a personal injury lawyer with experience in premises liability cases can make a crucial difference in your premises liability claim. Personal Injury Lawyers associated with InjuryBoard will evaluate your claim at no cost.
Should your case enter settlement negotiations or go to trial, our lawyers will work diligently to get you the compensation you deserve. Depending on your cases you may be eligible to received reimbursement of your medical bills, lost wages and other damages suffered due to your injury.
Read the next article: Property Owners Liability – Common Case Types