Property owners can be legally accountable in some circumstances when someone else suffers injuries on their properties. To be clear, the property owner does not need to guarantee others’ safety when someone is on their property. In some cases, accidents do happen. However, property owners have basic obligations to others they invite on to their property, and they can face liability when they fail to uphold it.
Premises liability cases encompass many things that can go wrong on someone else’s property. They can range from what seems like a common accident to a freak occurrence. Each premises liability case will use the same legal standard to determine liability regardless of what happened.
Our Phoenix premises liability attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C., handle premises liability claims regularly, and we fight hard for the compensation our clients deserve.
While each case has a different value, we obtained case settlements and verdicts totaling millions of dollars, including:
$275,000 for an eye injury due to a defectively designed lockbox
$235,000 for injuries exacerbated by building security issues
$225,000 for back injuries from a trip and fall
$150,000 for injuries from a brick porch that crumbled and caused a fall
$125,000 for a broken ankle from a fall down defective stairs
$122,500 for injuries from and slip and fall on an icy sidewalk
$115,000 for a herniated disk from a slip and fall in a restaurant bathroom
These are only some examples of the settlements we obtain for injured clients. Call us today to learn whether we can help in your case.
Examples of Phoenix Premises Liability Injuries
You can suffer many injuries on someone else’s property. If you are a renter, you are even at the risk of injury because of someone else’s carelessness in your own home.
Here are some examples of things that can be the subject of a premises liability lawsuit:
Slipping in an aisle at Fry’s Food and Drug when there was a spill that made the floor slippery
Falling when a bar patio collapses in Old Town Scottsdale Entertainment District
Suffering injuries in an attack in a parking lot or on the campus of Arizona State University (ASU)
Getting sick from carbon monoxide poisoning in an apartment that you rent
Your child suffers injuries in a swimming pool at the Foothills Aquatics Center
These accidents and injuries seem very different, but they are all part of the same branch of personal injury law. The other common thread in all of these cases is a corporate defendant. Unless you or a loved one suffered injuries in someone else’s home, you will sue the company that owns or operates the property.
Filing a lawsuit against a corporate defendant means that there may be deeper pockets to pay for your injuries. However, it also means that the company and its insurer have the resources to fight your claim. You can also file a lawsuit against the local government, but you can also expect them to take a very critical look at your case and be every bit as difficult as an insurance company.
Premises liability cases can even involve harm that comes from someone else’s property, even if you never physically set foot on it.
These claims can include:
Dram shop liability where restaurant and bar owners can be legally responsible for drunk driving injuries when they continue to serve a visibly intoxicated patron
Toxic tort liability when you are sickened by fumes or chemicals that emanate from someone else’s property
Injuries that come from being struck by falling debris from construction sites.
Proving Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
Every premises liability case, no matter the injury, requires that you prove that the defendant was negligent. There is often no law on the books that defines what negligence is. The test comes from common law that courts developed since the mid-1800s. To be eligible for financial compensation, you must prove that the defendant acted without due care. Specifically, there is a four-part test in every premises liability test.
The elements are:
The defendant owed you a duty of care.
The defendant acted unreasonably under the circumstances in a way that the average property owner would not.
You suffered an injury.
You would not have suffered injuries had it not been for the acts or omissions of the defendant.
Possible Defendants in a Premises Liability Case
When someone invites you onto their property or holds it open to the public, they owe a duty of care to those who enter.
This includes places like:
Apartment buildings that rent to tenants
Friends who invite social guests
Restaurants and bars
Swimming pool and park owners
In any premises liability case, the second and fourth elements of the negligence test are the ones that are the most difficult to prove. The fact that you suffered injuries on the property of another is not enough on its own to qualify you for financial compensation.
People do fall, and accidents can happen. You will need to show that your accident resulted from the defendant’s carelessness. While the overall negligence test is the same for premises liability cases, there are some differences in individual types of cases that we will discuss.
Premises liability cases are rarely cut-and-dried. Even if these cases seem common, there are always factors specific to your case that can determine whether you can receive compensation.
Abels & Annes, P.C. Gets Results
The Difficulties You May Face in a Slip-and-Fall Claim
The most common type of case that people think of as a premises liability case is a slip and fall claim. People routinely suffer injuries in falls, and they are not always to blame for their accidents. Slip-and-fall accidents present a special challenge for plaintiffs. In many cases, there are no witnesses who saw the fall. In addition, insurance companies treat slip-and-fall claims with excessive cynicism because they are common.
If insurance companies believe that slip-and-fall cases are too common, it is because they are. More than one in every five emergency room visits stems from a fall. Over one million of these visits are the result of a slip-and-fall. FIve percent of people who fall will suffer a fracture. Some will sustain even more serious injuries.
Simply stated, people do not make up slip-and-fall cases as the insurance companies claim. Insurance companies have created a culture that views significant and legitimate injuries with skepticism. This atmosphere cannot and should not take away your legal right to compensation when someone else was negligent. When you hire an experienced premises liability lawyer, you will gain a tough advocate who will meet this perception head-on with evidence and facts.
How to Recover Compensation in a Slip and Fall Case
In a slip and fall case, the mere fact that your fall happened is not enough to get a settlement check.
You can prove your entitlement to damages in two different ways:
You can prove that the property owner themselves created the dangerous condition. In that case, it does not matter whether there was adequate time to remove the hazard. The owner will be liable for the damages.
You can prove that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition and did not either fix it or take steps to warn the public about it.
The property owner may not bear liability. For example, if you slipped and fell moments after a spill happened in a store aisle, you cannot expect the property owner to take action instantly. However, if the spill was on the floor for a longer time, the store owner should either clean it up or place a “Wet Floor” sign around the area. The owner cannot pretend not to know about it. At a certain point, you can assume they knew.
Negligence Is Not Always the Cause of Every Single Accident
In a premises liability case for negligent security, the property owner may not be liable if you were the victim of the first attack on the property or in the area. In this case, you will consider unreasonable conduct within the context of the area. If the property is in a high-crime area or has experienced incidents before, the property owner will need to increase security measures. However, they do not have a legal obligation to guarantee everyone’s safety.
Some premises liability cases are far clearer. For instance, a deck collapsing at a bar is something that should never happen. While you will still need to prove how the owner was negligent, this will not be as heavy of a lift legally as a slip-and-fall case. Similarly, nobody should ever be sickened by carbon monoxide in an apartment building because the landlord should have installed detectors.
Dealing With Insurance Companies in Premises Liability Cases
While the facts in premises liability cases can differ, the property owner or person who controls the property probably has insurance, and their provider will fight your claim. You will file an insurance claim with the provider to reach a settlement agreement in practically every case.
Regardless of the type of insurance company you are dealing with, they all operate in roughly the same manner. They will demand proof of liability, and they will try to underpay you. In a slip-and-fall case, they are going to be extremely tough. They know that the burden of proof is on you, and they will not take your word for anything.
Most premises liability claims will involve corporate defendants. Unless you are filing a claim against a homeowner’s policy, you can expect that the potentially responsible party has a large insurance policy to protect their assets. Landlords and businesses have quite a bit to lose, especially when you have suffered a serious injury. Premises liability cases can be high-stakes matters for defendants, and they will have legal firepower of their own.
Getting a Settlement Offer May Be Just the Beginning of the Process
Even if you can get a settlement offer in a premises liability case, it is far from the end of the story. In some cases, this is just a hollow victory because the settlement offer is for far less than you deserve. You will still need to continue the fight to get full payment for your injuries.
In any premises liability case, the principle behind your damages is the same. You are legally entitled to compensation for all of your damages. Personal injury damages stretch beyond your actual economic losses. Of course, you can get paid for your lost earnings and your medical bills. You can also receive compensation for what you have endured since your injury.
The other common theme in any premises liability case is that you will need to prove your damages before the insurance company will pay you. The best thing that you can do for yourself in several ways after a premises liability injury is to get medical help. The doctor will diagnose and begin to treat your injuries. Ordinarily, you will wait to file a claim until you understand the full extent of your injuries. This is when you are at the point of maximum medical improvement, meaning that you will not recover further from your injuries.
Damages for Your Premises Liability Case
Before you settle your case, make sure you will receive payment for:
The full cost of your medical expenses
All lost wages for earnings that you have missed out, whether it is because you cannot work or have to do less work
Pain and suffering for your post-accident experience
Wrongful death damages if your loved one died in the accident
Punitive damages when the defendant’s negligence or recklessness were extreme
Any premises liability injury can result in significant damages. Medical care is expensive. If you have gone to the hospital to seek treatment, that alone can result in a bill of thousands of dollars. However, doctors should not be the only people who receive payment for your injury. You have legal rights to compensation for your injuries. We will fight for them and take on anyone who seeks to take advantage of you.
Call a Phoenix Premises Liability Attorney Today
If you suffered injuries on the property of another or by something coming from their property, we can help you seek financial compensation. Abels & Annes, P.C., are determined lawyers who know how to stand up for our clients. Call us today at (602) 819-5191 or contact us online for your free initial consultation.
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Phoenix, AZ 85014
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