Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure the safety of visitors to their property and address known safety hazards as quickly as possible with effective solutions. When a lawful visitor on a property suffers an injury due to the property owner’s failure to address a known hazard or unsafe condition, the injured party can seek compensation through a premises liability claim. This is a type of civil action similar to a personal injury claim. Just like a personal injury claim, a plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit will have to prove the property owner had a duty of care to the plaintiff and failed to uphold that duty.
Elements of Premises Liability
The first step in any premises liability lawsuit is determining whether the injured plaintiff was lawfully present on the defendant’s property at the time of the incident. Premises liability law does not protect trespassers except for incidents involving trespassing children. Property owners who have a foreseeable risk of injury to interloping children must take reasonable steps to prevent such injuries
In all other premises liability cases involving adult plaintiffs, plaintiffs are either invitees or licensees. Invitees are typically people like family, friends, neighbors, and other individuals with the property owner’s invitation or permission to enter the property. Licensees are people property owners have invited onto the property for their own purposes, such as salespeople and utility workers.
Property owners owe invitees a higher duty of care than licensees. A property owner only has to warn a licensee of a known safety issue if the licensee is likely to encounter the hazard while present on the property. In any event, once an injured plaintiff suffers an injury on private property, he or she must file a premises liability claim against the property owner. It’s also possible to file a premises liability claim against a government agency or municipality for an injury that occurred on publicly-maintained property, but filing a lawsuit against the government is much more difficult than a civil action against a private property owner.
Damages in Premises Liability Claims
Injured plaintiffs must be able to prove that the defendant in a premises liability case knew of the injury-causing hazard and either failed to correct the problem, did not take adequate steps to completely correct the problem, or failed to warn the plaintiff of the known issue if the plaintiff was likely to encounter it while visiting the property. The concept of “foreseeability” often comes into play for premises liability claims. A jury will determine a property owner’s degree of fault based on the reasonable foreseeability of the injury.
Anyone who suffers an injury due to unsafe premises can reach out to the team at Brannon Law for a case evaluation. One of our attorneys will meet with you to review the details of your claim and let you know your odds of success in court and what kind of compensation to expect from a lawsuit. Injured plaintiffs in premises liability lawsuits can secure compensation for their medical expenses, damaged personal property, pain and suffering, and even lost income if an injury prevents them from working. Contact Brannon Law to learn more about premises liability claims or schedule a consultation today.