I slipped and fell on someone else’s property. What are my rights?
If the fall was caused by the actions of the property owner or premise manager you may be entitled to compensatory damages for your injury. Slip and fall claims are commonly known as “Premise Liability” claims. The owner’s liability (legal responsibility) for the injuries of someone on his or her property depends on the status of the person on the property.
When you are on someone’s property you are classified in one of three categories: 1) Invitee, 2) Licensee, or 3) Trespasser. The premise owner’s legal duty to protect you from injury while on his or her property varies depending on your status.
Invitees are owed the highest duty of care by the property owner or premise manager. Invitees includes business customers, visitors, guests and others who are present on the property for the financial benefit of the owner or occupier. Owners and occupiers of land or property have a legal duty to maintain the property in a safe condition and provide reasonable warnings of possible dangerous or hazardous conditions. Property owners or premise managers can be held liable for injuries to an invitee because of a dangerous conditions they should have known about and remedied.
Licensees are people who have received an invitation to be on the property of someone else but they are not there for business or financial purposes. This is often someone on property for social purposes. These visitors to the property are commonly referred to as “social guests”. Property owners or premise managers are responsible for correcting and warning against dangerous conditions and hazardous situations. However, owners can only be held responsible for dangers they actually knew about.
Trespasser: Owners and occupiers of a premise or property owe the lowest duty of care to a trespasser. A a trespasser is on the property uninvited and without permission. Property owners are not responsible for keeping their property safe for trespassers. The only duty owed to trespassers is to refrain from engaging in intentional or reckless conduct that causes injuries and to warn the trespasser if you have actual knowledge they are in peril or danger. If the property owner has reasonable knowledge that children trespass onto the property, owners should post warnings of unsafe conditions and take reasonable steps to prevent the children from being exposed to such dangers.
What are the different types of Premise Liability Claims?
There are many different situations where a property owner or premise manager may be legally responsible (liable) for the injury or death of a guest. These include:
Slip and Falls
Trip and Falls
Property Maintenance Issues
Dangerous Carpets, Rugs or Mats
Wet or Slippery Floors
Elevator and Escalator Injuries
Swimming Pool Accidents and Drownings
Dog and Animal Bites
Defective or Dangerous Playground Equipment
Electrocution and Electric Shock Injuries
Lack of Adequate Security
The property owner’s insurance company says they are not responsible for my fall on their customer’s property. How can they not be responsible?
Generally under the law in order to hold a property owner or premise manager liable (legally responsible) for your injury on their property, you must prove they did something negligent to cause your fall. The law affords property owners or premise managers certain defenses to a claim of negligence and these defenses can block their liability or reduce the money damages they may owe. The two most common defenses raised are: 1) Open and Obvious and 2) Contributory Negligence.
Open and Obvious: The hazard or dangerous condition is such that it should have been seen and the danger appreciated by the premise guest.
Contributory Negligence: The premise guest failed to exercise reasonable care to see and appreciate the condition that caused the fall.
These two defenses may negate the liability claim or reduce the damages owed by the property owner or premise manager. These are often raised by the property owner’s insurance company to try and defeat or discourage an injured guest from pursuing a claim for damages. Trying to determine the validity of these defenses often requires the assistance of an attorney who can review the facts and legal standards to better assess the viability of the claim.
I fell and was hurt on someone’s property. What compensation am I entitled to?
If you can prove the property owner or premise manager was legally responsible (liable) for causing your fall AND there are no viable defenses to your claim, you may be entitled to collect the following types of compensatory damages from the property owner’s insurance company:
Medical bills for injuries caused by the fall,
Lost Wages for medically necessary time missed from work,
Pain & Suffering related to the injuries caused by the fall,
Mental Anguish (also known as worry and concern), and
Future Compensatory Damages that are reasonably certain to be incurred.
Injuries caused by the fall can include the aggravation or exacerbation of a pre-existing condition. Also, it is important to remember that the issue of medical causation will often require medical documentation. The compensatory damages are usually paid in one lump sum that includes all claimable damages and once the damages are paid, the claim is closed forever and no future claims will be considered.
How much will it cost to consult with a BRW lawyer about my slip and fall claim?
At Boteler Richardson Wolfe, our lawyers offer free consultations on all injury related claims and cases. The free consultation will include a review of the facts and related issues presented in your situation. It will also include an honest assessment about whether your claim or case warrants hiring an attorney. If you select a BRW lawyer to assist with your claim or case there are no fees charged up front and you only pay attorney fees if we win your claim or case! Call us today to speak with one of our lawyers: 251 433-7766.
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