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​How Do You Prove Premises Liability?

You suffered an injury on another person’s property, and you must now prove that the owner acted negligently. You have contacted a premises liability attorney to assess your claim and recover compensation on your behalf. However, you are still unsure how to prove your premises liability claim. Several elements must be present and proven to garner a good premises liability claim. There are some steps injury victims must take along with their premises liability attorney.

Legal Status of the Injury Victim

​How Do You Prove Premises LiabilityTo determine whether you are eligible to file a premises liability claim, you and your attorney must prove your legal status on the property. Specific individuals are ineligible to file premises liability claims because they entered the property illegally.

A prime example is a burglar who does not have permission to be on the property. Trespassing is also a familiar defense property owners use to prohibit compensation recovery.

The first item you must prove is what you were doing on the property.

  • Trespasser: Courts dismiss most cases where a trespasser is seeking compensation. There are very few instances where a trespasser can claim compensation. A trespasser claim for premises liability will involve the property owner creating or having knowledge of an unreasonable risk that can harm another person. If the trespasser shows that the owner should have foreseen the trespasser, the owner might be liable for injuries. This foreseeability is very challenging to prove. You will need a premises liability attorney who knows how to prove these claims.
  • Licensee: Second on the list of individuals on a property are licensees. These guests have explicit or implied consent to be on the property, but they are there for their benefit. These guests will be salesmen or contractors. The owner owes these parties a duty of care, but it is less than an invitee and more than a trespasser. Property owners must warn licensees of any dangerous conditions they are unlikely to find on their own accord.
  • Invitee: In areas where the law applies, invitees have the highest duty of care owed to them by property owners. An invitee is a person who has implied permission or direct permission to be on the property. This group includes friends, family, and neighbors for residential property owners. For business owners, this group will consist of customers and clients.

The legal authority of a person on a property is essentially in premises liability cases. It is also one of the most controversial issues. These cases can become complex fast. You need a premises liability attorney who can demonstrate your legal right to come on the property and for the property owner to owe you a duty of care.

What Are Attractive Nuisances?

Children are treated differently in premises liability cases. If a child enters a property without permission, they are not necessarily considered a trespasser. When a property owner has an attractive nuisance on the property that can attract children, the child is not a trespasser. If the child incurs an injury on the property, the owner can be held liable.

Attractive nuisance cases are incredibly complex because the child did enter another property without permission. However, if the owner did not have a pool, this might not have attracted the child onto the property initially. These are the most contentious topics for premises liability attorneys. Never attempt to handle these cases on your own.

An attorney must show several elements in an attractive nuisance case.

A local premises liability attorney must show:

  • The owner should have reasonably known the child will trespass
  • The attractive nuisance is dangerous and can lead to injury or death
  • The property owner did not use reasonable care to secure the attractive nuisance
  • The danger was significant compared to the utility of the owner
  • The child was not old enough to recognize the attractive nuisance can injure them

These elements must be present for a successful, attractive nuisance case. If your child were old enough to know they will be injured by entering another property and using a swimming pool, they can classify as a trespasser.

Foreseeability

Premises liability cases rely heavily on the property owner having reasonably known there was a hazard and not living up to their duty for the safety of those on the property. You must prove the owner acted negligently to cause your injuries. Another factor that your premises liability attorney must prove is the foreseeability of the defendant. If the owner claims they can not have foreseen the dangerous condition, an issue will arise. Some courts will dismiss cases that cannot prove foreseeability or negligence. It is essential to discuss your options with a premises liability lawyer.

You cannot discuss foreseeability without addressing reasonable action—negligence and reasonability work hand in hand. A property owner must have acted reasonably to prevent an injury from occurring. If the property owner acted negligently, you have a better chance of obtaining compensation for your claim.

Negligence and foreseeability do not exist without the other. In other words, a property owner must have foreseen the concern and neglected to address it. They might not have acted negligently if they did not anticipate the condition. A premises liability attorney will look for evidence to prove foreseeability and negligence. In some instances, these issues may not be the sole determining factors.

Types of Premises Liability Cases

You might be wondering what constitutes a premises liability claim. There are some common ones and others many individuals believe are not the property owner’s responsibility.

Here is a list of examples of premises liability cases:

  • Snow and ice accident
  • Dog bites
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Fires
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Slip and fall
  • Trip and fall
  • Defective items on the premises
  • Leaks and flooding
  • Lack of security
  • Elevator accidents
  • Chemicals or toxic fumes
  • Unsecured extension cords
  • Upended rugs

Premises liability encompasses a range of accidents. Many times injury victims do not take action because they believe it was their fault.

For example, defendants can often blame a swimming pool accident on a person’s limited swimming abilities. The reality is the property owner should have safeguards like a lifeguard or signage to ensure guests stay safe even with limited swimming capabilities. There are times when a person acts recklessly and causes injuries. It is crucial to speak with a premises liability attorney to determine whether you have a valid claim.

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What Do You Need to Prove?

You must prove several elements for a successful claim, as with any personal injury case. Seeking compensation for your injury and damages is critical—an injury results in medical treatment and out-of-pocket expenses that you might not have incurred otherwise.

You cannot recover compensation without proving certain elements, and a premises liability attorney will need to prove:

  1. Duty of care: The most critical element in premises liability cases is whether the property owner owed you a duty of care. You can establish a duty of care by showing you were legally allowed to be on the property. The definition, in this case, must have afforded you the proper standard of reasonable care. If you are not on the property legally, then the standard of care will not be present.
  2. Breach of duty: After establishing a duty of care, your attorney must show that the property owner or manager breached that duty. They failed to uphold this duty through negligence or carelessness. If the owner was negligent, they knew about a hazard and did nothing to remedy it or warn others. If the owner was careless, they helped create a dangerous situation.
  3. Injury and damages: Lastly, a property owner owed you a duty of care, breached that duty, and this resulted in injury. The court must prove that the property owner’s negligent actions caused your damage. You can collect and present a range of evidence to solidify your claim with the court.

While these are the basic components of a premises liability claim, they are not the only elements. They can be challenging to prove, and you need to discuss your options with a local premises liability lawyer.

Evidence You Need to Prove a Premises Liability Claim

All legal matters require evidence to reach a favorable conclusion for either party. Premises liability cases require specific proof. While your premises liability attorney will work to gather evidence on your behalf and build a strong case, there is evidence you can provide as well.

Some evidence that can help your case includes:

  1. Accident reports: An initial accident report can be critical to your premises liability claim. Depending on where the accident happened, you will need to file a report with the store or police. It is essential to have your case’s circumstances in writing and not solely through word of mouth. If the police filed an accident report, they might also have listed witnesses and their statements within the report.
  2. Pictures: It can be difficult to reconstruct an accident scene without knowing the original scene. Surveillance video is not always available, but an injury victim can take pictures. It is essential to take photographs of the location around you. The property owner can quickly work to remove the hazard and blame you. Do not give them enough time to do so. Even if you are on the floor, use your phone to take pictures of your surroundings. If you cannot access your phone, have a bystander take photos for you. You may also want to check social media as another person may have captured the accident and posted about it.
  3. Property records: Your premises liability attorney will request lease agreements and property records to show the court the party you are suing is the current owner-and negligent party.
  4. Medical records: If a hazardous situation on another person’s property caused your injury, medical records form critical evidence. Your medical records and bills will show how the injuries have affected your ability to participate in daily life. Bills represent the debts you will need to pay from the property owner’s negligence.
  5. Insurance policies: Business owners will have insurance policies to cover accidents and incidents on the property. Your local premises liability attorney will request a copy of the insurance policy so the company cannot dispute the available policy limits.
  6. Pay stubs: If you suffer permanent impairment, you will need to provide pay stubs or tax records indicating what you previously made compared to what you might earn now.

These are some forms of evidence you will need for your case, but there is more that can help establish a foundation.

What You Should Do After an Injury

Even if you are unsure whether you have a valid claim, there are some steps you need to take after an accident. You must seek medical attention even if the injury is minor. Take photographs of the location or have a bystander do so for you. If there are witnesses nearby, get their contact information. You must also report the accident to the property owner or the authorities. Lastly, you need to contact a local premises liability attorney.

You can recover compensation for:

Nearly every personal injury case arises from negligence. Premises liability cases will also require a premises liability attorney to prove negligence on behalf of the injury party. Property owners have a series of responsibilities to the public and anyone who enters the property. However, they also have a series of defenses they can use when a person gets injured on the property. Injury victims assume that it will be easy to obtain compensation after an incident on the property, but it is complex.

Property owners will have insurance policies for these types of cases. Behind those insurance policies are representatives whose primary goal is to deny claims. You need to move quickly and consult with a premises liability lawyer who can fight for your rights and ensure the defendant does not get away with harming you.

​Can You Sue Someone if You Are Injured on Their Property?

The short answer is yes, you can sue if you are injured on another person’s property. You will be eligible to file a premises liability claim when you suffer harm on another person’s property. The basis of the premises liability claim will be negligence.

Property owners owe visitors and guests a duty to ensure the property is safe from any dangers. If dangers are present, they must warn said guests and block off the dangerous area. Keep in mind that state and local ordinances can alter the outcome of a premises liability case. Discuss your legal opinions with a premises liability attorney.

Property owners are liable for anything that happens on their property. There are many subcategories to premises liability claims, from dog bites to slip and fall. Essentially any accident that causes harm to a person while on another party’s property constitutes a premises liability claim.

Obtaining compensation is not so cut and dry. You must consider many legal nuances, and property owners may shift the blame onto you. Without the proper legal foundation and assistance, the property owner can win.

Why You Were on the Property Matters

​Can You Sue Someone if You Are Injured on Their PropertyThe law classifies individuals on a property in three ways. The category you fall into will determine whether a property owner owes you much of a duty of care and whether you have a case. ​

What Is an Invitee?

An invitee is any party the owner expected to come on the property to conduct a transaction. This definition will apply to businesses that invite consumers to purchase their products or services. The two parties share a common goal.

The property owner attempted to sell the product and make a profit. The invitee is on the property to purchase the product. The most common example is grocery stores. The grocery store owner has to keep the property safe for anyone who comes to shop there.

If any dangers are present, there should be signage to warn visitors. The property owner should conduct regular inspections to look for hazards or safety issues. The property owner owes this category of individual the highest duty of care in premises liability cases. ​

What Is a Licensee?

The next category an individual on a property can fall into is a licensee. Being the second on the list, they are owed the second highest duty of care by property owners. Typically licensees are social guests or a party conducting work on the property.

These guests have permission to be on the property. An example is friends and family that come over for a birthday party. They are not there for a business purpose but have a reason to be on the property. When you have a party, you must warn visitors of any dangers.

Let us assume there is a broken tile in the hallway. You must block this section or have a sign that says to watch out. You can also inform each guest about the damaged tile.​

Who Are Trespassers?

Finally, we have uninvited and unwanted visitors. As you might imagine, these individuals receive a property owner’s least duty of care. An individual who enters the property without the owner’s knowledge is a trespasser.

There is a limited duty of care offered to trespassers, but this definition can vary. It is highly disputed how safe a property owner should keep their premises if a trespasser is afoot. A trespasser is different from a burglar, and you should be wary of these classifications as they can be mixed up and used interchangeably when there are genuine differences.

Business Versus Residential Properties

Business owners have a higher standard of care owed than homeowners. Businesses see more increased traffic, and there are many different areas that a property manager must secure. Property owners will also need to inspect the property as a hazard can appear within minutes. If the weather changes, business owners must take additional steps to secure the premises. Rain and snow require anti-slip devices near entrances.

A residential property owner does not have to prepare for high traffic within their home. When there is a person on the property, the homeowner expects them to be there and can quickly warn of any hazards. Property owners may also have fewer means to handle a premises liability lawsuit. These claims will go through the homeowner’s insurance which can be limited. Speak with a premises liability attorney to determine the best legal recourse for your injury.

Foreseeability and Reasonableness

The court will consider two factors in premises liability cases. First, the court will use reasonableness to determine the classification of the individual on the property.

The court will look at:

  • How the individual was using the property
  • Why the individual was on the property
  • If the accident was foreseeable by the property owner
  • Whether the property owner took steps to remedy the dangerous condition or warn of the hazardous condition

What Is an Attractive Nuisance?

One exception to trespassing is an attractive nuisance. This doctrine applies to children since they are easily attracted to “fun things .” Essentially, there are special legal duties afforded to children who enter a property because something on the property was attractive to them; this can be many things from a playground, pool, or hot tub. The child enters the property to play with the said object and hurts themselves.

The child is not a trespasser because there was an attractive nuisance on the property. In theory, if that nuisance were not there, the child might not have entered the property and harmed themselves. Property owners must place warning signs or fences so that a child does not easily access their property.

What Causes Injuries?

The primary cause of injury is negligence.

Some of the most common reasons for premises liability injuries:

  • Dog attacks
  • Drowning
  • Wet floors
  • Unsafe sidewalks
  • Misplaced objects
  • Hazardous materials
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Not adhering to building regulations
  • Dangerous elevators
  • Electrocution

An injury can happen on a property for many other reasons. After an injury, report the incident and call emergency services. Even if you believe it is a minor injury, you still need medical attention.

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Proving a Premises Liability Case

Several elements need to be proven to obtain compensation. The first element that must be present is the duty of care. The classifications establish the duty of care we described above. Suppose the owner owes you a duty of care; that is step one in your premises liability case. This factor is an essential aspect of any premises liability case. The next factor that must be present in the case is a breach of the duty of care.

A premises liability attorney must prove that the property owner breached the duty of care they owed to the invitee or licensee. The third element is that an injury occurred because of the breach. One way to prove this element is to seek medical attention immediately. When you get a medical examination, this will directly link the incident on the property and your injury.

The final factor that a premises liability attorney must prove in a premises liability case is damages. The extent of your damages sets your financial losses related to the injuries you suffered from the accident. These financial losses result in compensation.

You can garner compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical costs
  • Emergency care costs
  • Disability
  • Disfigurement
  • Lost wages and future earnings
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

You need to contact a premise liability attorney before the statute of limitations runs out to file a claim. You will lose a premises liability case if you wait too long.

Prepare for Property Owner Defense

For a successful claim, you will need enough evidence to prove the negligent actions of the property owner caused you direct harm resulting in damages. The majority of evidence will be collected immediately following the accident. While video surveillance can go a long way in your case, it is not always available.

If possible, take pictures of everything around you. Do not move or further harm yourself; grab your phone and take photos from your location. It is also vital to file a lawsuit against the correct party. Various parties can be held liable, and it is essential to have a premises liability attorney that can decipher who the responsible party is.

As with any legal matter, the other party will have the opportunity to defend themselves. Most commonly, property owners will use the defense that the person was not a guest. The property owner will argue that you are a trespasser and therefore have no authority to file a claim. Trespasser claims are typically dismissed or rejected.

Another possible defense the property owner will use is that you were reckless, which caused your injuries. They will employ various tactics to prove the accident was your fault. If they can prove this as fact, then your case is dismissed. The property owner’s attorney can present other less common defenses. A premises liability attorney can shoot these down if there is sufficient evidence of your injury.

Dogs are highly protective of their owners. If a dog feels its owner is in danger, it will defend itself. If the claim involves a dog bite, the dog owner can argue that you provoked the dog in some form. In other words, if the dog owner and their attorney prove you provoked the dog, the court will deny your premises liability claim. However, you should not be discouraged as a premises liability attorney can work to prove the opposite. An attorney can show the dog was dangerous and has an aggressive past.

FAQs

What is the most common premises liability claim?

The most common premises liability accidents are slip and fall across the board. These accidents are also easily avoidable.

What do I do if I suffer harm in an accident on another person’s property?

You need to take a few steps after suffering an injury on a property. First, you need to call emergency services and get medical attention. Next, collect as much evidence as is feasible for you. Do not hurt yourself trying to collect evidence. Evidence collection can include gathering witness information, taking pictures, and requesting medical documentation. The final step you need to take is to meet with a premises liability lawyer.

Is there a time limit to file a claim?

Yes, there are individual statutes of limitation for any injury claim. You will need to speak with a premises liability attorney to determine which laws apply to your case.

What if the owner did not know about the dangerous condition?

Ignorance is a tough defense to use. While a property owner can claim they did not know about the dangerous condition, they can still be liable for an accident. They must regularly inspect the property. Typically this defense strategy does not hold up in court.

What is a hazardous condition?

The term may sound vague because it covers a range of topics. Essentially, any condition that can cause visitor harm is considered hazardous.

This idea brings us to the original question. You can sue someone if you get injured on their property. However, it is not as easy as it sounds as you need sufficient evidence and an experienced premises liability attorney. You need patience for a successful claim.

Call a Premises Liability Attorney Today

A premises liability claim can take time to resolve, especially without irrefutable evidence. You need a premises liability lawyer to gather as much evidence as possible at the scene. Follow all doctor recommendations and treatment. If you do not follow the doctor’s orders, the defendant can argue that you are uninjured or that your injuries are not substantial. You must also avoid social media and speaking about your case.

Most importantly, trust your premises liability attorney.