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Premises liability refers to the liability of a property owner for injuries that occur to visitors. If you were harmed when visiting another person's property, you could be owed substantial compensation for those injuries. Property owners are expected to use reasonable care to remedy unsafe conditions and potential dangers on the property. They have a duty of care to protect people whether it is public or private property.
The specific rights you have will depend on your legal status while visiting the property. An experienced premises liability lawyer knows how to investigate your case and seek compensation for you.
What Is Premises Liability Law?
Premises liability law refers to a property owner's responsibility to visitors while they are on the property. This concept is typically in play when a person is injured by something defective or unsafe condition on the property. Injuries could include loss of income, medical treatment, pain and suffering, and much more.
Property owners are generally expected to keep their premises safe for those who visit. While there are exceptions, most properties should be reasonably safe for anyone who may visit that property. Injuries in buildings, homes and other properties could mean that the property or business owner is responsible for your damages.
Premises Liability Laws in Virginia
Premises liability cases are primarily based on negligence law. This means that to win their case the injured person must show that:
- The property owner owed a reasonable duty of care
- The property owner violated that duty of care
- The violation caused injuries or fatal injuries
- The extent and amount of damages suffered by the injured person
Your right to compensation will often depend on the legal status you had when visiting the property. These statuses include:
- Invitees: Invitees are visitors that were invited to the property either expressly or impliedly. They are owed a high duty of care. This includes the property owner's obligation to remedy unsafe conditions or potential dangers. It also includes the duty to conduct reasonable inspections of the property.
- Licensees: A licensee is allowed on the property but usually is there for their own purpose rather than a mutually beneficial one. These individuals are owed a slightly less strict duty of care. They are entitled to warnings of known dangers but property owners need not conduct inspections in most cases.
- Trespassers: Trespassers are individuals who are not allowed on the property. Property owners owe almost no duty of care to these people. The only thing a property owner can't do is willfully or wantonly cause the trespasser injury just for trespassing.
Common Types of Premises Liability Cases
There are many different types of premises liability cases that can occur. Many happen in public places like big box stores, restaurants, and grocery stores. Others can happen on public or private property. In any of those locations, serious harm may befall you or a loved one because of a property owner's negligence.
Slip and Fall
Slip and fall cases are extremely common premises liability cases. They happen when a person falls and is injured because of a dangerous condition on the property. Causes of slip and fall accidents often include:
- Slippery substances on the floor
- Ice or rain accumulation on sidewalks or other walkways
- Defective staircases
- Balcony or deck collapses
- Uneven floors or loose rugs
Many other claims are because the property owner does not properly maintain the property. Inadequate maintenance can cause severe harm. In addition to the slip and fall injuries it may cause, it could also cause injuries due to:
- Electrical shock or chemical exposure
- Dangerous machinery injuries
- Falling ceilings or objects
Dangerous Property Conditions
One of the most prevalent reasons for premises liability cases is the dangerous conditions that exist on the property. A dangerous condition is one that could potentially cause harm to a visitor. This may include, but is not limited to:
- Inadequate security on the premises
- Improper lighting
- Holes in the floor
- Conditions that may lead to a slip-and-fall accident
Reasonable Steps to Take in Premises Liability Lawsuits
After you've been injured on another's property, you may ask "What do I do next?" The first thing to do is get medical attention right away. Your health is the most important thing. See a doctor, go to the hospital, and participate in any necessary follow-up care that this recommended. This not only protects your health but also helps document your injuries for the premises liability case.
Additional reasonable steps you should take after your accident include:
- Take pictures of the dangerous condition that caused your harm
- Photograph injuries and property damage caused by the accident
- Get the contact information of any witnesses
- Get insurance information or other details from the property owner if possible
- Avoid speaking with other insurance companies who may trick you into admitting fault (even when it wasn't your fault)
In addition to these steps, the best way to protect yourself is to immediately contact a premises liability attorney. A premises liability lawsuit is complicated and subject to certain time limits that could impact your case.
Premises Liability Insurance and How It Affects a Premises Liability Accident
Many businesses buy premises liability insurance to protect themselves in the event something happens. For you, this can be both incredibly helpful and potentially a problem. Insurance policies are meant to help pay for your injuries caused by a premises liability accident. When you can prove your case, this is a great resource to help ensure you are compensated properly.
Insurance companies are notorious, however, for trying to trick you into admitting fault or settling low. They will attempt to contact you early to see if you will admit to partial or complete fault for your own injuries. They ask tricky questions that can confuse you into saying something that isn't even true.
The best way to avoid this problem is to work with the premises liability attorneys at the Commonwealth Law Group. We understand what you are going through and how to protect you from unscrupulous insurance companies.
If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.