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
To 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.