Premises Liability Claim
Premises liability refers to a property owner’s responsibility for keeping their property reasonably safe for guests or others. When someone is injured on another person’s property, the property owner may be liable for injuries and damages related to that injury. To help you understand the basics, here’s an overview of how these laws work.
Premises liability cases can deal with a number of different accidents and injuries. Some of the most common issues that fall in this category include the following:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Issues with snow and ice
- Wet or oily floors
- Loose rugs, electrical cords, or other tripping hazards
- Defective stairs
- Broken or poorly installed railings
- Maintenance issues that lead to injuries
- Defective conditions
- Inadequate security
- Maintenance or safety issues with elevators and escalators
- Swimming pools or similar drowning hazards
- Toxic fumes and chemicals
Injuries from dog bites can also fall into this category. In short, property owners are generally responsible for ensuring that people who are legally on their property are safe from being attacked by dogs.
Duty of Reasonable Care
For a premises liability case to be successful, you have to establish four elements, and the first is that the property owner had a reasonable duty of care. In other words, you have to prove to the courts that the property owner had a legal responsibility to ensure the property was safe for its occupants. When a property owner invites someone to their property, they have an implicit responsibility for that person’s safety — this applies to guests in a home as well as to customers in a commercial establishment. Similarly, if someone rents or licenses their property to someone, they also have a reasonable duty of care to that person.
In contrast, if someone trespasses on another person’s property, the property owner doesn’t have a duty of care to the trespasser. As a result, if a trespasser gets injured on someone’s property, they typically can’t bring a premises liability claim forward. The exception is for children. If you have a swimming pool or a vicious dog on your property, you need to take steps to ensure that children can’t enter your property and get injured. And, if a child does trespass on your property, you may be held liable for their injuries.
Breaching the Duty of Care
You also need to establish that the property owner breached their duty of care. To explain, imagine a puddle of water on a grocery store floor. Let’s say the puddle was there for hours, before causing someone to slip and fall. In this situation, the manager or owner should have walked through the store and found the puddle before an injury occurred, so they breached their duty of care. Similarly, if the puddle was caused by a defective vegetable watering hose and the defect was in place for a significant amount of time, the owner also should have noticed the situation and taken steps to rectify it.
However, if a customer walks in with snow on their boots and the customer behind them slips in the puddle created by the melting snow, the property owner may not have breached their duty of care. In this case, there was arguably no way for the property owner to know that the puddle had appeared, and as a result, they may not be liable.
That said, the law is not always cut and dry. A quality lawyer can help to argue that the owner did breach their duty of care. For example, in a case like this, the lawyer may argue that the owner should have anticipated slippery puddles from incoming customers, and they should have put down a rug or taken other steps to avoid the hazard.
Causing the Accident
Premises liability lawyers also need to establish that the situation was directly created by the breach of duty caused the injuries related to the claim. For example, let’s say you bring forward a case against a property owner and you claim that you broke your back and developed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from an injury that occurred on their property. For the case to be successful, your lawyer needs to show the courts that your injuries stem from the accident on the defendant’s property. In response, their lawyer will try to argue that you had those injuries from a previous situation. That’s why it’s critical to hire a lawyer who is experienced with premises liability cases.
Finally, every personal injury case requires the plaintiff to show that they suffered damages from the situation. Damages refer to the financial, physical, and emotional suffering that arises from the injuries. When you bring a premises liability claim against another party, they may be required to compensate you for the following types of damages:
- Medical bills
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Estimated lost future wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability Cases
After most injuries, you have a limited amount of time to bring forward a claim. If you miss that window, you may not be able to bring a claim against the property owner. In most cases, the statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Massachusetts is three years. However, to be on the safe side, you should always try to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Bringing Forward a Case
If you or a loved one has been hurt on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. You may be able to get a payout to cover damages associated with the injury. To learn more, contact us for a free case evaluation today. At Tinti, Quinn, Grover, and Frey, we have the experience you need when you’re dealing with a personal injury that was caused by the negligence of another person. Let us help you protect your rights.