When you’re on someone else’s property, there’s an expectation that conditions will be safe and that reasonable care will be taken to protect you from unnecessary harm. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Examples of common injuries and incidents include:
- Slipping and falling
- Snow and ice accidents
- Defective conditions on the premises
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Water leaks and flooding
- Exposure to toxic fumes or chemicals
- Elevator and escalator incidents
- Inadequate security (leading to injury or assault)
If you’ve been affected by one of these incidents – or something similar – you may have the ability to bring a claim against the property owner. Consider your options and move accordingly.
4 Tips for Premises Liability Cases
Not every injury or incident can be blamed on premises liability. Here are some tips and suggestions to help you strengthen your case:
1. Ensure You Can Prove These Four Factors
According to Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard, any premises liability claim needs to address four specific factors and areas of concern in order to be considered viable:
- Duty: Did you visit the property lawfully? (In other words, were you invited onto the property, or did you have a right to be there?) If so, the property owner had a duty to reasonably care for your well-being.
- Breach: Did the owner of the property fail to live up to their duty of care? For example, was there a serious risk factor that was known, yet the owner failed to correct? This is known as a breach.
- Causation: Just because a breached duty of care existed at the time of your injury, doesn’t necessarily mean it led to your outcome. It must be known that your injuries were caused by the negligence.
- Damages: Finally, you have to consider whether or not the incident caused you to suffer actual harm. For example, did your trip and fall over an exposed piece of pipe cause you to hurt yourself – physically or emotionally? If so, you may have a case. (If there were no significant damages, you have no reason to bring a claim.)
Proving two or three of these to be true won’t validate your claim. In order for you to bring a successful premises liability case against someone, all four of these factors must be clearly addressed. Consider this before moving forward.
2. Don’t Delay
The worst thing you can do is sit back and wait. You may not feel like dealing with the situation, but time is ticking. Premises liability cases are subject to statute of limitations. This means you only have a set period of time within which you can file a claim. Once time runs out, you no longer have any legal recourse. This is why it’s important to act swiftly.
3. Gather as Much Evidence as Possible
Even if you think you have a shut and close case, be purposeful and diligent about gathering evidence to support your claim. (You can never have enough!) Evidence may include photographs, videos, eyewitness accounts, testimonials from doctors, medical bills, treatment history, etc.
4. Hire an Experienced Attorney
You certainly have the right to file your own claim and represent yourself in a premises liability claim or lawsuit, but this isn’t recommended. The stakes are high and you don’t have the skill and experience needed to successfully pursue compensation. Hire an experienced attorney instead.
A good premises liability attorney understands the nuances of these cases and is familiar with past laws and rulings, which comes in handy when determining how much to pursue. You’ll also find that most operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t owe a dime until there’s a ruling. Make sure you take full advantage of this!
Adding it All Up
If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve been hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a premises liability case. In doing so, you can (a) receive compensation for your medical bills and suffering, and (b) hold the appropriate parties responsible so that nobody else has to be victimized in a similar fashion. Consider your options and make the smart choice.