How Do Premises Liability Cases Work?

premises liability cases
Img Source - Gelman Law

If you were injured on private property as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may have a premises liability case on your hands. The trouble is, most people have no idea how premises liability cases work – or their expectations are derived from movies and TV shows.

How exactly do premises liability cases work? And how can you maximize your potential payout?

The Basics of Premises Liability Cases

Personal injury lawyers like, typically handle premises liability cases. Premises liability cases result from an accident, injuries, and possibly death on someone else’s property, when there are unsafe or dangerous conditions associated with that property.

These are some common examples of premises liability cases:

·       Slip and fall accidents. A slip and fall accident happens when somebody loses their balance or is unable to maintain their footing due to negligent circumstances, such as a wet floor with no warning sign associated with it.

·       Inadequate maintenance. Any accident that results from inadequate maintenance could also turn into a premises liability case. For example, damaged and unfixed sidewalks can result in a person tripping and falling.

·       Elevator and escalator accidents. Any injuries or deaths associated with elevators and escalators may also qualify as premises liability cases.

·       Swimming pool accidents. Swimming pool owners are generally responsible for maintaining safe environments, so swimming pool accidents qualify as premises liability cases as well.

·       Structure fires. Not all fires can end up as premises liability cases, but they can if the fire was caused as a result of negligence or if there weren’t proper countermeasures in place.

·       Ice and snow accidents. Similarly, improper handling of snow and ice can also result in a premises liability case.

·       Amusement park accidents. Amusement parks are responsible for the care of their guests, so amusement park accidents often qualify as well.

When you file a premises liability claim, you’ll work with a lawyer to file the requisite paperwork. At that point, the defendant will likely hire legal counsel as well, and you’ll enter negotiations. The majority of premises liability cases settle out of court, as neither party wants the additional hassle and expense of going to trial. If you reach a settlement, the matter will be finalized, and you’ll receive compensation that both parties have agreed to. In many cases, this is provided by an insurance company.

If the case cannot be negotiated and settled out of court, it will eventually go to trial. This is a process that can take months or even longer for very complex cases.

Proving Negligence

For your case to have a chance at success, you need to be able to prove negligence. To do this, you’ll need to prove four separate things:

·       Duty of care.  First, you need to prove that there was a duty of care. The property owner must have been responsible for something, such as properly maintaining the environment or posting warning signage of dangerous conditions.

·       Breach of duty. Second, you must prove that the property owner breached that duty. You must somehow prove that the maintenance was not complete, or that warning signage was not posted.

·       Causally linked accident. Third, you must be able to prove that the accident was causally linked to the breach of duty. In other words, your accident must have been a direct result of the property owner breaching the duty that was established.

·       Meaningful damages. Fourth, and finally, you must demonstrate that there were meaningful, calculable damages as a result of the accident. This usually amounts to demonstrating the full extent and costs of your injuries.

How to Maximize Your Position in a Premises Liability Case

How can you maximize your position in a premises liability case?

·       Hire a competent lawyer. The most important ingredient for success is a competent lawyer at your side. You need to hire someone with ample experience in premises liability cases, and someone with the credentials and disposition to help you win your case. Once you have a lawyer you feel good about, make sure to trust and follow their advice as closely as possible.

·       Preserve thorough documentation. It’s also important to preserve as much documentation as possible. That includes taking photos and videos of the scene of the accident, as well as of your injuries. It’s also important to keep thorough medical records to prove damages.

·       Understand damages. You may be entitled to damages in multiple categories, depending on the nature and severity of the accident. The better you understand these categories, the better you can position your demands.

Premises liability cases can be complicated and mentally and emotionally challenging. But with the help of a good lawyer, they become much simpler and easier to handle. If you have been injured as a result of a property owner’s negligence, it’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.