Owners of public premises have a duty to keep their properties safe for the benefit of visitors. In addition to cleaning up spills in a timely manner and otherwise maintaining their properties, they must keep parking lots and parking garages safe by having a sufficient number of security cameras and/or security personnel on duty at a given time.
If a third party attacks and injures a property visitor, and the visitor can demonstrate that the attack directly resulted from inadequate security on the premises, then the property owner may be responsible. Consequently, the property visitor might file a personal injury claim or a lawsuit involving the property owner and their insurance company.
If you suffered injuries in a third-party attack on someone else's property, you must immediately become aware of your legal rights and options. A skilled premises liability attorney can investigate your circumstances and determine if you may be eligible to file a third-party claim or lawsuit against the owner of the premises where the attack happened.
If so, your lawyer can handle every step of the process, including gathering documents, submitting a demand package to the insurance company, and negotiating with insurance company adjusters. If the adjuster does not make you a reasonable settlement offer, your lawyer can pursue legal action in the court system by filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
Your attorney will be on your side every step of the way, aggressively fighting for your legal interests and pursuing the monetary recovery you deserve for your premises injuries.
A Premises Owner's Legal Duty of Care
Property owners typically owe property visitors a high legal duty of care unless an individual is an unknown trespasser. Property owners are generally responsible for warning about or correcting known dangerous conditions on their premises within a reasonable amount of time.
Theoretically, it is reasonable to assume that a third party might follow or attack an individual in a parking lot or parking garage on public premises – especially at night. In anticipation of this possibility, a premises owner may have a duty to place a certain number of security cameras in the vicinity or have a sufficient number of security personnel, including security guards or officers, on duty in the area at a given time.
A personal injury claim or lawsuit may follow when a premises owner violates this legal duty of care and a third-party attack occurs where the property visitor suffers injuries.
Legal Elements of Proof in a Premises Accident Case
To recover monetary compensation and damages in a premises accident claim or lawsuit, the injured property visitor must first establish their legal burden of proof.
First, they must demonstrate that the property owner owed them a legal duty of care that the property owner subsequently violated. For example, the premises owner might not have had ample security personnel in the vicinity at night, or they may not have had sufficient security cameras recording events at a particular location.
Next, the injured property visitor must establish that the third-party attack on the subject premises occurred because the property owner breached their legal duty of care. Finally, the premises visitor must show that they suffered one or more physical injuries and damages as a direct result of the attack.
The property owner's insurance company will not do you any favors. They will not help you prove your case or recover the necessary monetary compensation. On the other hand, an experienced premises liability lawyer can retain several experts who can testify in your case to prove liability.
First, your lawyer can secure a qualified accident reconstructionist with expertise in negligent security cases and premises liability. An accident reconstructionist can visit the scene of the occurrence, speak to any individuals who witnessed the event, walk the premises, review police reports, and draft a statement about how the incident likely occurred and whether or not the premises owner was fully or partially responsible for the occurrence.
A premises liability lawyer can also retain a medical expert who can causally relate your claimed injury or injuries to the attack on the premises. Medical providers can also establish, based on a reasonable degree of medical probability, that one or more of your injuries are permanent, meaning that it is unlikely to get better with time.
Your lawyer can retain the necessary experts to prove each legal element of your case, putting you in a position to recover the monetary damages you need and deserve.
If you suffered injuries in a third-party attack on someone else's property, you must immediately get the medical treatment you need. Complete your medical treatment regimen and follow all of your medical provider's instructions. Otherwise, the property owner's insurance company might claim that you fabricated your injuries or that your claimed injuries are unrelated to the subject incident.
While you focus on recovering from your injuries, your lawyer can gather all your medical treatment records, medical bills, and other documentation and submit those documents to the insurance company for review.
Filing a Claim with the Property Owner's Insurer
A premises accident claim begins when your attorney submits a settlement demand package to the property owner's insurance company.
A settlement demand package will typically include a demand letter along with various documents about your case, including incident reports, police reports, witness statements, security footage of the incident, photographs of the incident, injury photographs, medical records, and medical bills.
If the insurance company decides to accept fault for the premises incident, then they may begin settlement negotiations in the case.
When negotiating with insurance companies, you should never accept the first settlement offer that the adjuster puts on the table. In fact, initial settlement offers are almost always far below the actual value of the case, and the insurance company most likely has additional money on the table.
Your premises accident lawyer can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf to convince the adjuster to increase their settlement offer appropriately. If that does not happen, you can always file a lawsuit against the property owner in the state court system and pursue litigation in your case.
However, just because your attorney files a lawsuit in your premises accident case does not necessarily mean that your case will proceed all the way to a civil jury trial or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) hearing. Instead, your case may settle at any point along the way – especially if the insurance company adjuster decides to increase their offer to an appropriate number.
While settlement negotiations continue in the case, the parties must comply with various directives from the court. For example, they may need to complete discovery by a specific date and attend one or more settlement conferences with the court.
If the case does not reach a resolution during litigation, then the parties may take the matter to a civil jury trial and allow a jury to decide the outcome of all disputed issues, including fault for the incident, as well as the subject of monetary damages.
If the only issue in the case is monetary damages, the parties might elect to pursue one or more ADR proceedings, such as mediation or binding arbitration. At a mediation hearing, a neutral mediator helps to facilitate ongoing settlement discussions between the involved parties and hopefully resolve the case at the hearing.
However, at a binding arbitration hearing, a pre-selected arbitrator listens to evidence in the case, and the parties call witnesses at an out-of-court arbitration hearing. The arbitrator then decides the amount of monetary compensation to award the injured victim in the case.
Having an attorney represent you during settlement negotiations and litigation proceedings can be extremely beneficial. Your lawyer can determine whether you should consider accepting a particular settlement offer that the insurance company puts on the table versus litigating your case to a resolution in the court system.
If you opt for litigation, your lawyer can also advise between a civil jury trial or various ADR proceedings, such as binding arbitration.
Recovering Monetary Damages Following a Premises Incident
If you can establish the legal elements of your premises liability case, and you can demonstrate that the property owner violated their legal duty of care (for example, because the security on their premises was inadequate), then you may recover various types of monetary damages.
You can receive these monetary damages via a favorable settlement offer that the insurance company makes or by taking your case to a civil jury trial or ADR proceeding and obtaining a favorable jury verdict or binding arbitration award.
The types and amounts of monetary damages you are eligible to receive in your premises accident case are very case-specific. Therefore, not all injury victims will receive the same amount of compensation as others.
Factors that may influence the damages you recover include:
- The specific circumstances surrounding the incident
- The injuries you suffered in the incident
- The total cost of the medical treatment that you underwent following the occurrence
First, you might be eligible to recover monetary damages for your related medical expenses, including past medical expenses and anticipated medical costs, if you suffered a permanent injury in the occurrence.
Additionally, if your injuries prevented you from working for some time after the incident, you might recover lost earnings compensation. If your injuries prevented you from continuing with your current job, and you had to switch careers and take a pay cut, you may be entitled to compensation for loss of earning capacity.
Victims of premises incidents can also recover monetary compensation for their intangible losses, including damages for mental distress, loss of spousal consortium, inconvenience, loss of the ability to use a body part (such as from a spinal cord injury or paralysis), loss of life enjoyment, and past and anticipated pain and suffering.
A skilled premises liability lawyer will be in the best position to estimate the total settlement or litigation value of your case and can do everything possible to maximize the total damage award you receive.
Remember that property owners and their insurance companies will not voluntarily pay for your losses and injuries. Instead, take proper legal action with the right legal support.
Call an Experienced Premises Liability Attorney in Your Area Today
If you or someone you love sustained injuries in a third-party attack on someone else's premises, you need to talk with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer immediately to see if you have a case.
If you do, your lawyer can handle every step of the process, from gathering important documents to litigating your case in the court system if that step becomes necessary.
In any premises accident or personal injury case, time is of the essence. This is because victims only have two years from the date of their accident to file a premises liability lawsuit seeking the monetary damages they need.
If they do not file their lawsuit in a timely manner, then the court will prevent them from recovering any monetary damages for their injuries. Therefore, you need to act right away to secure the legal representation you need.
Your attorney can answer all of your legal questions, advise you on essential decisions in your case, and work to maximize the monetary recovery you obtain through settlement or litigation. Best of all, your lawyer can do all this for you while you focus on the most important thing: recovering from your injuries.