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What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is a concept in the legal field that usually develops in personal injury cases where an injury was caused by a type of risky or defective condition on one's property. Many personal injury cases are constructed on negligence, and premises liability cases are no exception.

What is Premises Liability Law?

Premises liability law describes the legal principle that holds property owners and/or occupants responsible when someone comes onto their property and gets hurt because of a harmful condition. With few exceptions, premises liability cases are based on negligence; nevertheless, the idea may be applied differently in other personal injury situations. The main source of premises liability law is state case precedents, known as "common law," however, state statutes, city ordinances, and local building regulations may also be applicable.

A premises liability legal suit holds the owner of the property in which an injury happened accountable for any danger suffered on that person or entity's property. Put simply, property owners have a responsibility under regional, state, and federal laws to keep a reasonably safe environment and warn others of any hazardous conditions under certain situations that may cause damage. While these laws vary, the basic underlying fact is similar regardless of where you live: property owners must keep their land and buildings on their land safe for authorized visitors and those with business there.

Premises Liability Case Examples

Failure to keep the property safe frequently results in a “premises liability.” Common situations that may lead to premises liability lawsuits include:

  • Slip and fall cases
  • Defective stairwells/ staircase accidents
  • Electricity and electrocution
  • Defective sidewalks
  • Insufficient security
  • Dog bites or animal attacks
  • Falling or flying objects
  • Ceiling collapse
  • Elevation accidents
  • Fire safety & building codes
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Supermarket & department store accidents

As you can see, premises liability cases include a wide variety of fact scenarios. Even dog bite cases fall under this umbrella due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property. 

If you do not see the cause of your premises liability case above, it does not mean that you do not have a case. Please contact The Cochran Firm’s experienced premises liability attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

Common Premises Liability Injuries

Although premises liability cases are usually not as dramatic or noticeable as automobile accidents, they can still cause the same type of severe injuries or even death. Many premises liability clients deal with pain and suffering from their injuries for the rest of their lives. 

Some of the most common injuries sustained in a premises liability case include:

If you do not see the injury you have suffered due to someone else’s negligence does not mean you do not have a premises liability case. 

No one should have to suffer from another person’s negligence. Call The Cochran Firm today to speak with one of our experienced premises liability lawyers to help you pursue justice and receive compensation for the injuries that you have suffered.

Who Can Recover For Premises Liability?

Rules on who may recuperate for premises liability and under which conditions vary state to state. Some states concentrate on the status of the individual visiting the property to decide whether liability is appropriate. The status of a visitor in those specific states is generally invitee, licensee, or trespasser.

An invitee is somebody that has the property owner's expressed or implied approval to go onto the property. Invitees are typically individuals like members of the family, friends, and neighbors. For commercial functions, invitees are typically customers. Still, the property owner has a responsibility to the invitee to keep the property reasonably safe for the invitee.

A licensee is somebody that has the property owner's expressed or implied permission to enter the property but is coming onto the property for their own functions. Licensees are usually people like salespeople. The property owner typically owes the licensee a lesser duty only to alert them of the possibly hazardous conditions that create an unreasonable risk of damage if:

  • The property owner is aware of the condition and
  • The licensee is not likely to be able to locate it.

A trespasser is someone who is not authorized to be on the property. However, in many cases, when an owner knows there will likely be an intruder, it is required to give sensible warnings of threats that are not apparent to trespassers. Typically, the exception to this rule is child trespassers, who might get involved with an "attractive nuisance," like a swimming pool, and therefore are owed a higher duty of care.

An owner or occupant should examine the home regularly to find dangerous conditions and either fix them or post a warning so that legal visitors are not injured. Any property owner that fails to fulfill this duty, such as being aware of a harmful condition and failing to warn visitors, can be held liable for any injuries visitors suffered from lack of warning.

You may be thinking, "do restrictions exist on recovering for premises liability?" And the answer is yes. Many states follow the basis of comparative fault in premises liability cases, implying a hurt person who is partially or totally responsible for injuries suffered cannot recuperate for damages that arose out of a dangerous property condition. A visitor has the obligation to utilize reasonable care to keep themselves safe. If the visitor fails to use reasonable care, their portion of fault can potentially reduce their recovery.

Who is Responsible?

Property owners have a responsibility to maintain a safe environment for when people come onto their land, so they do not suffer an injury. This commitment, also known as "premises liability," holds property owner’s accountable for any injury or accident that happens on their property.

Responsibility is identified by different things in different states. Some states focus on the status of the visitor, whereas others focus on the condition of the property and the actions of the owner and the visitor.

In states that concentrate on the condition of the property and actions of the owner/visitor, a uniform standard of care is used similarly to an invitee and licensees. However, that uniform standard of care is not extended to trespassers. When deciding whether the standard of care that is required by a property owner toward a licensee (and some states both an invitee and licensee) has been met requires the inspection of a range of factors, consisting of:

  • Conditions under which the visitor enters the property,
  • What the property is being used for,
  • Foreseeability of the accident or injury, and
  • Reasonableness of the property owner/possessor’s effort to fix any dangerous conditions or warn visitors of the dangerous condition.

When a trespasser is on a property, the owner only has a duty to provide a warning to avoid injuries if there are artificial conditions that the property owner has created or maintains (e.g., swimming pool). If a warning is given, the trespasser will probably be responsible. If a warning is not provided, the trespasser might not be responsible.

One of the most commonly used restrictions on a property owner's liability is the argument that the injured individual is partly responsible. A visitor is required to exercise sensible care for their own safety, and when that care is not exercised, the injured individual's recovery is sometimes restricted or decreased by their negligence. Most states stick to a "comparative fault" system, meaning that an injured person's legal damages will be reduced by a portion equivalent to their fault for the event.

In order for a property owner to be responsible, a victim must prove that the owner was at fault in some way. There must be material evidence that the owner either created the dangerous condition or allowed the dangerous condition to remain on their property to establish a claim.

What Happens If Someone is Injured on My Property?

If an invitee, licensee, or trespasser is injured while on your property, it is likely, they will bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. Whether you will be held liable or not depends upon how the visitor was injured and what their status on your property was. For example, you would be more likely to be held liable for an invitee or licensee’s injuries than for a trespasser's injuries.

The law requires property owners to maintain their property in a reasonably safe way. If the property owner refrains from doing so, they probably will be held liable for negligence. Liability on private property is typically greater for those invited onto the property than those who were trespassing (or uninvited).

As long as you make your visitors aware of any harmful conditions you know of on your property, you most likely will not be held liable for any injuries that happen on your land. If you are a property owner and are not sure of what to do after someone has been hurt on your property, it is very important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the duty of care you owe. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation today. 

How Does a Premises Liability Case Work?

Initially, the plaintiff must show that they have in fact been injured. This can be done through testament, whether it is a testimony from a treating medical professional or the plaintiff's testimony. A plaintiff can also provide medical statements and expert testimony regarding their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, and how the injuries and continuous treatment will impact certain parts of their life.

Once the plaintiff has proven their injuries, they must prove that: 

  • The person causing the injury owned, occupied, or leased the property
  • The defendant was negligent in the use of the property
  • The plaintiff has suffered injuries, and
  • The property owner’s (defendant) negligence was a significant factor in causing the injury.

When proving that the defendant's negligence had a hand in causing your injuries, it is essential to show that the damage that was suffered was fairly foreseeable. The defendant's negligence does not have to be the sole cause of the injury; however, it must have significantly contributed to the injury.

No matter what the premises liability case may be, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney to help navigate the legal process. The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are here to help. Our premises liability lawyers will investigate your injury to determine its cause, then pursue compensation on your behalf for your injuries. In deciding whether or not you should bring a case for premise liability, it is crucial to make sure that the property owner knew the faulty condition or was so evident that it should have been known by them. 

You should not have to suffer in silence. We’ll be your voice in this challenging and traumatic time.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love that has suffered from a premises liability case. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

If you’re looking for an experienced premises liability lawyer to help you pursue justice and obtain compensation for your injuries, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.

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