What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that holds a property owner, or sometimes a tenant or visitor, liable for certain injuries at the property. In most cases, it is usually the property owner responsible for the injuries that occur on their property.
What Are Some Examples of Premises Liability?
Premises liability cases fall into different subcategories. These subcategories include but are not limited to slip and fall, negligent security, dog and animal attacks, electrical accidents, exposure to toxic chemicals, etc.
How Do You Win a Premises Liability Case?
A premises liability case must satisfy the four key elements to be considered valid. These elements include:
Legal presence: The plaintiff must prove that they were at the property legally when they got injured due to the defendant's negligence. This means they might not have a valid claim if they were trespassing or allowed to be on the property when the injury occurred.
Negligence: The plaintiff must also prove that the defendant was negligent in one way or another. In these kinds of cases, negligence comes in different forms. For example, leaving a pool of water on the floor of a grocery store for hours can be considered a form of negligence. The same applies when the property owner or management fails to warn visitors about a dangerous condition at the property, such as live electrical wires.
Injury: This is usually the whole point of filing a premises liability claim or lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove they were injured while on the defendant's property. In that case, even if a dangerous condition existed at the property, the plaintiff will have no case if they cannot prove that they were injured.
Damages: Lastly, the plaintiff should establish that they suffered significant damages due to the defendant's negligence.
What Damages Can I Recover From a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
In a premises liability lawsuit, you may be able to recover both compensatory and punitive damages. Compensatory damages can either be economic, non-economic, or both.
Economic damages are the kind of damages that have a monetary effect on the plaintiff's life. In other words, the plaintiff suffered some kind of monetary loss. Some common examples of economic damages include:
Wage loss: The plaintiff could not go to work due to the injury sustained at the defendant's property.
Medical costs: This covers ambulance fees, medical equipment, medical bills, caregiver costs, etc.
Loss of earning potential: The plaintiff might be able to claim this damage if they can establish that getting injured due to the defendant's negligence prevented them from earning a particular amount of money, either through their business, careers, or any other source. However, it is important to note that this claim differs from loss of wages - it only focuses on what the plaintiff would have earned in the future, not their current wages.
On the other hand, non-economic damages are non-monetary losses. Some common examples of non-economic damages include:
Pain and suffering: This usually applies if the plaintiff suffered significant injuries requiring surgeries and other similar treatments. The court assumes these procedures are painful and would likely cause the plaintiff immense suffering.
Loss of enjoyment of life: If the injury ruined the plaintiff's quality of life, they might include this aspect in their claim. For example, if they loved going fishing over the weekends but could no longer do so due to an injury, this could be a loss of enjoyment of life.
Emotional distress: The plaintiff can also sue if they suffered great mental and emotional distress due to their injuries.
Permanent disfigurement: The plaintiff might be able to sue the defendant if they were permanently disfigured due to the injuries sustained on the defendant's property.
Depending on the nature of the case, the court might also award the plaintiff punitive damages to punish the defendant for their gross negligence. However, it should be noted that punitive damages are not guaranteed; the judge or jury has the authority to or not award these damages. That said, punitive damages are usually more than double the compensatory damages.
Do I Need to File a Premises Liability Lawsuit in Court?
Premises liability cases do not necessarily need to be handled in court. In fact, the only reason such cases go to court is when an out-of-court settlement is impossible. This usually happens when the defendant and plaintiff disagree on settling the case out of court.
Do I Need an Attorney for My Premises Liability Claim?
You do not necessarily need an attorney for your premises liability claim or lawsuit. But having an attorney can significantly benefit your case. Premises liability attorneys understand how these complex laws work and apply to your specific situation. Other than that, competent attorneys can:
- Collect and preserve evidence of premises liability
- Interview witnesses and experts
- Assess the damages sustained
- Initiate a claim with the other party
- Represent you throughout the negotiations for a reasonable settlement
- File a premises liability lawsuit if an out-of-court settlement is impossible to reach
- Prepare you for court proceedings
- Represent you in court
- File an appeal if the judge or jury rejects your case
Where Can I Find a Competent Premises Liability Lawyer?
Morgan and Morgan premises liability attorneys can help you or your loved one obtain the compensation you need and deserve following an injury sustained at someone else's property. This is because we have a solid track record of winning these cases.
In addition, as the largest personal injury law firm in the United States, we have the resources to fight for you. This means you can count on us if you need a competent premises liability attorney to fight for you or a loved one.
Because we have handled numerous premises liability cases over the last three decades, we understand how painful it is to suffer due to someone else's negligence. If that is what you or your loved one is going through, we might be able to help. Fill out our free case evaluation form to get started.