Can you sue someone if you become injured on their property? Property owners have a duty to properly care for their premises for the benefit of all property visitors. Therefore, if you suffered injuries in an accident that occurred on someone else’s property, you may file a claim or bring a lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Your eligibility to recover damages in a premises accident case will depend upon your status on the property, along with other factors.
If you suffered injuries in a premises accident, you should talk with a local premises accident lawyer soon after you receive your initial medical treatment. A lawyer can evaluate your claim circumstances and determine if you can file a premises liability claim or lawsuit against the property owner—or indirectly, against their insurance company. Most homeowner policies should cover slip-and-falls and related incidents if your premises accident occurred at a residential property.
Your lawyer can assist you with assembling the claim documents, filing a convincing claim with the property owner’s insurer, and negotiating a fair settlement to truly compensate you for your premises-accident injuries.
Litigation may also be an option if the insurance company will not believe your version of the case or if a settlement adjuster refuses to offer you fair compensation for your injuries. Your premise liability lawyer can aggressively negotiate and advocate on your behalf while pursuing the best possible monetary award in your case.
What Are Some Common Premises Accidents?
When premises owners maintain their properties carelessly, serious accidents can occur. The most common accident on someone else’s premises is a slip-and-fall accident. Slip-and-falls typically occur when food or liquid spills onto the ground, catching the accident victim off guard and resulting in a slip, trip, or fall. Given the prevalence of food and drink, slip-and-fall accidents are especially common at bars, restaurants, and grocery stores.
However, slip-and-falls are not the only types of accident that may occur on someone else’s premises. Property visitors may also suffer injuries because of defective floorboards, staircases, and railings on the premises.
Premises incidents can even occur when property owners fail to maintain a high enough security presence on their property. For example, a bar or nightclub might not have sufficient security guards on duty during a busy night. Alternatively, the premises owner may not have enough security cameras to capture footage of an assault or other incident that may lead to injuries on the property.
If you or a person you love has suffered injuries on someone else’s premises, you need a skilled lawyer to help you determine your eligibility for filing a claim. Given the numerous complexities associated with claim-filing, negotiating, and litigating, a lawyer can be an invaluable help in maximizing the monetary damages you recover in your case.
Common Injuries That Occur in a Premises Accident
All premises accidents are different. Therefore, the injuries one accident victim may sustain will likely differ from those another accident victim suffers. Factors, including the type of accident, the force involved, and the surrounding circumstances, can all affect the nature and extent of an accident victim’s injuries.
Similarly, an accident victim who falls on the ground and strikes a part of their body will likely suffer a more severe injury than an accident victim who did not fall.
When an accident victim strikes the ground, they may suffer a broken bone, open laceration, or soft tissue contusion to their neck and back. If they hit their head or neck on the ground in a fall, they may have to endure a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, or paralysis.
All of these injuries require initial and ongoing medical treatment for the accident victim to have a chance at making a full recovery. However, some of these injuries are so severe that they wind up permanent and may cause the accident victim to experience painful symptoms for the rest of their life.
One of the essential steps an accident victim should take after their premises accident is to seek medical care at a hospital or urgent care facility. Their next call should be to a knowledgeable premises accident lawyer who can assist them during every stage of their personal injury case.
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Did the Property Owner Owe You a Duty of Care That They Violated?
For you to recover monetary compensation in a premises accident case, the property owner must have owed you some legal duty of care. Moreover, they must have violated this duty of care, proximately causing the accident and your injuries.
The question of whether a property owner owes an individual a legal duty of care is highly case-specific. In other words, the duty of care that a property owner owes to a property visitor depends upon the visitor’s status on the land at a given time.
Business invitees, for example, are individuals who are present on the subject property to benefit the property owner in some way. Common examples of business invitees include shoppers at a store and diners at a public restaurant. Property owners owe business invitees the highest available duty of care.
This means that the property owner must regularly inspect their properties for both known and unknown dangerous conditions that might exist. If the property owner uncovers a hazard during their inspection, they must take reasonable and timely steps to warn about or correct the hazardous condition.
At other times, property visitors are not business invitees, but rather, they are social guests on the premises. An individual who visits someone else’s residence is likely a social guest—or licensee—on the property. Property owners owe licenses a similar duty of care to business invitees. Therefore, a property owner must regularly warn about or repair known dangerous conditions on their premises.
Finally, some property visitors are trespassers. In most situations, a property owner does not owe a trespasser a legal duty of care. However, the property owner might owe a duty of care if the trespasser is a “known trespasser” whom the property owner knows to visit the property frequently.
To recover monetary damages from the property owner’s insurer, the property owner must have violated their duty of care to you in some way, such as by waiting too long to warn about or repair a property hazard.
Moreover, the accident must have been a foreseeable result of the property owner’s negligence, and the accident must not have occurred “but for” the property owner’s carelessness. Finally, you must have suffered at least one physical injury in your premises accident to be eligible for monetary damages.
In some instances, it is difficult for a premises accident victim to show that the property owner was negligent under the circumstances. In those cases, the property owner or their lawyer can retain an accident reconstructionist or another expert to determine how the accident happened after piecing together the circumstances. Your lawyer can help you satisfy your legal burden, increasing your chances of recovering the monetary damages you need.
Pursuing a Premises Liability Claim with the Property Owner’s Insurer
Filing a premises liability claim with the at-fault person’s insurance company may lead to ongoing settlement negotiations between the insurance company adjuster and the accident victim’s lawyer.
In most instances, an initial settlement offer from the insurance company will not be high enough to fairly compensate the accident victim for their injuries. However, after several rounds of negotiations, the offer may become more attractive for the premises accident victim.
If the insurance company does not increase their settlement offer to a favourable number, you can file a lawsuit directly against the premises owner—and indirectly against their insurance company—seeking monetary redress.
Your lawyer can then help you litigate your case through the system and take part in every aspect of litigation, including the discovery process. Your lawyer can also help you decide whether you should accept a particular settlement offer or litigate your case at a courtroom proceeding.
What Damages Can I Recover for Injuries in a Premises Accident?
When property owners violate their duty of care to visitors, and the visitor suffers an injury on the premises, the property owner and their insurance company may have to pay damages in the form of a settlement, jury verdict, or arbitration award. Since different property visitors suffer various injuries in an accident, not all injured victims will recover the same types and amounts of monetary compensation.
In fact, the total economic damages that one accident victim receives may be significantly higher or lower than that another accident victim receives. Monetary damages frequently depend upon the specific premises accident that happened, the exact injuries that the property visitor sustained, the way in which they sustained their injuries, and the amount of pain, suffering, and inconvenience that accompanied their injuries.
Some injuries are relatively short-term and resolve very quickly. However, at other times, an accident victim suffers a permanent injury that results in a lifetime of pain and other symptoms. In most cases, the more serious an accident victim’s injuries—and the more extensive their medical treatment following the accident—the higher the monetary damages they may be eligible to recover.
First, accident victims may pursue monetary damages for their inconvenience, pain, and suffering. If the victim suffers a permanent injury in their premises accident, they may be eligible to recover future pain and suffering damages to compensate them for their anticipated symptoms.
Moreover, an accident victim can recover monetary redress for the loss of their ability to enjoy life, such as when they suffer a painful and debilitating injury that prevents them from enjoying certain recreational and social activities. If the accident victim suffered a full or partial paralysis injury that limits their ability to use a body part, they can pursue a loss of use claim.
In addition, premises accident victims can recover monetary damages for their out-of-pocket expenses, including their lost income. Accident victims are eligible for lost wage compensation if they had to miss work time to make a full injury recovery. Their pain and symptoms may also have prevented them from performing specific job duties, such as lifting heavy objects or operating a motor vehicle while on the job.
To prove a lost wage claim, the accident victim must usually submit documents from their employer that state the specific days they missed from work and the amount of compensation they lost each day. They may also need to submit copies of their tax returns. Finally, when an accident victim has to switch to a different job—and take a sizable pay cut—due to their premises accident injuries, they may be eligible to receive monetary compensation for their loss of earning capacity.
No matter your situation, your lawyer can evaluate both the strengths and weaknesses of your individual case and give you a realistic idea of the types and amounts of monetary damages you can recover in your case.
Speak With a Skilled Premises Accident Lawyer in Your Area Today
Property owners’ insurance companies often do everything they can to limit the monetary payout they must make to an accident victim. Although insurance companies usually advertise to the contrary, they are really only interested in their own bottom line and care very little, if at all, about your injuries and well-being.
Therefore, if you sustained injuries that resulted from a premises owner’s negligence, you need your own lawyer on board to help you maximize your compensation.
A skilled premises accident lawyer in your area will make a point of pursuing the most significant possible damages in your case. To recover these damages, your lawyer can aggressively negotiate with the insurance company and, if necessary, threaten them with litigation.
If your case ultimately goes to a civil jury trial or binding arbitration hearing, your lawyer can present documentary evidence and medical evidence in support of your claim. They can also make convincing arguments in court, further increasing your chances of recovering significant monetary damages. Finally, your lawyer can address all of your legal questions and help you make informed decisions throughout your case.