Premises liability is often only associated with slip and fall injuries in commercial properties such as grocery stores or shopping malls. But did you know that you can also be compensated if you get hurt in a friend's house when they invite you for dinner?
Or that an attack by the neighbor's dog can also be considered as a premises liability? These are just some of the unpopular obscure premises liability examples.
Given the complexity of obscure premises liability incidents, many victims usually don't know how to file a claim. And those that do may hire inexperienced lawyers who convince them that there's nothing much they can do about their case. Consequently, they receive little or no compensation for their injuries as they struggle to pay expensive medical bills and recover from different kinds of losses.
At Morgan & Morgan, we believe that you deserve to be compensated for the injuries caused by someone else's negligence. And it all starts with finding the right attorney to represent you.
We also believe that you should be well informed about all the legal options relating to premises liability to keep you safe. For this reason, this article explains everything you need to know about obscure premises liability and what to do when you become a victim.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that holds the owner of a premise liable for any injuries occurring to another person on their property. These injuries result from defective and unsafe conditions caused mainly by the property owner's negligence.
The toughest part of premises liability cases is proving the property owner's negligence. Usually, proof of negligence is often related to the maintenance and care of a property.
For example, suppose the property owner is aware of a faulty escalator and fails to repair it or caution people not to use it. In that case, the property owner can be held responsible for any accidents caused by the escalator.
In this typical example, negligence is pretty straightforward, making the case easier to solve. Some cases, however, would need an experienced attorney to do all it takes to uncover the hidden clues of negligence.
This is what is known as obscure premises liability. It involves cases where the client can't determine fault right away, mostly because of unique circumstances surrounding the case.
Sadly, some clients may choose not to pursue a particular personal injury claim simply because they can't establish if the property owner was at fault. For this reason, hiring an experienced premises liability attorney to determine who's at fault makes a lot more sense.
Additionally, state laws differ in stipulating the duties of care of the property owner and also have different ways of describing the visitors to a property. As a result, these laws may be confusing to victims representing themselves without an attorney.
The Duty of Care of the Property Owner
Overall, the law requires property owners to provide reasonable care and maintenance to ensure the property is safe and clear of dangerous conditions. Reasonable care covers a wide scope of activities, including:
- Cleaning wet spills off the floor promptly or cautioning visitors of the hazard.
- Making timely repairs of damaged property and cautioning visitors of the hazard.
- Ensuring the premise has sufficient safety features for visitors.
- Installing sufficient security features, including fences, trained security, and video surveillance cameras on the property.
- Maintaining cleanliness and proper lighting in the property.
On the other hand, state laws group visitors in three different categories, namely:
An Invitee: an individual who has expressed or implied permission from the property owner to enter the premises. In this case, the property owner has full responsibility for ensuring that the visitor remains safe while on the property.
A licensee: an individual who has expressed or implied permission from the property owner to access the premises but does so for their own purposes which aren't related to the property owner. In this case, the property owner will be responsible for cautioning the licensee of any defective conditions in the property that may cause injuries.
A trespasser: a person who has no legal authority to access a premise and therefore the owner has no responsibilities of duty of care owed to such a person. However, if the trespasser is a child, the property owner owes the responsibility of exercising reasonable care to avoid any foreknown risks that may cause harm to a child.
In a nutshell, a property owner's duty of care varies depending on the circumstances of the injury. Additionally, some underlying laws differ from one state to another, altering the duty of care of a property owner and holding a visitor partly or fully responsible for their injuries.
Without proper representation from an experienced attorney, the chances of winning obscured premises liability cases are significantly reduced.
Examples of Obscured Premises Liability Cases
You may have heard of a slip and fall lawsuit where a person sues the property owner after injuring their arm or leg from falling on a slippery floor. Such a lawsuit is pretty common.
The reasons for slip and fall vary depending on the circumstances; the most common ones include:
- Unsecured or hidden extension cords.
- Broken sidewalks and staircases.
- Unsecured rugs and carpets.
- Slippery floors.
On the other hand, here are some examples of obscure premises liability cases.
Defective Equipment in an Amusement Park
From unsecured equipment to failed emergency stops, faulty equipment in amusement parks can lead to traumatic injuries or even loss of life in extreme cases. If the injury results from poor maintenance and condition of the equipment, the amusement park owner will be held liable.
Unsupervised or Unsecured Swimming Pools
Swimming pool accidents are often serious because they pose high risks of drowning. The pool owner is responsible for securing the pool and ensuring that tools such as lifeguards, slides, and diving boards are in good condition. Additionally, the pool shouldn't be left unsupervised or unlocked, given that it may pose a danger to children who may trespass into the property.
Animal and Dog Bites
Most states apply the "one bite rule" for injuries caused by domesticated animals. This rule states that the owner of the animal will be held responsible for injuries caused to a person if they knew or should have known about the animal's risk from past dangerous tendencies.
However, that doesn't mean that a dog owner, for example, shouldn't leash or train their dog. They still have to take measures such as installing a fence or leashing the dog to prevent them from causing any damages or attacking visitors.
If they fail to do so, they can be held legally responsible for bite injuries caused by their dog to another party, and the compensation as well.
Inadequate Security on the Property
Not having adequate security in a premise can lead to undetected criminal activities within the building. This is also a form of negligence that can be used to seek justice and compensation for victims of crime on the premises. Examples of such crimes include robbery, assault, murder, and rape.
Poor Property Maintenance
Poor property maintenance ranges from cluttering to shoddy construction on the premises. Sometimes, the victim may be partially responsible for the injuries, which complicates the entire case. If so, you'll need a personal injury lawyer with experience in handling obscure premises liability cases to determine who's at fault.
How Do You Determine Liability?
It all depends on the circumstances of the case, its components, and the laws of the state where the case is involved. To determine liability, components such as the visitor's status, property owner or manager, and the condition of the premises are all considered. These are among the many legal puzzles an attorney can help you solve.
What Damages Are Covered in a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
Your attorney can help you identify the damages covered under your specific case, including those you never knew existed. They include:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Emotional trauma
- Death and funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
Debunking Common Myths of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability is one of the widely misunderstood concepts in injury-related cases. Here is an explanation of some of the common myths and misconceptions of these types of cases.
Premises Liability Cases Only Involve Slips and Falls
Sometimes, premises liability cases are referred to as slip and falls because most injuries occur this way. However, several other injuries fall under premises liability, such as dog bites and electrocution by unsecured cords.
Moreover, these cases cover physical injuries and other damages or losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and lost wages.
You Can't Pursue a Premises Liability Case if There Was a Caution Sign
Sign or no sign, the owner of a premise must exercise their duty to reasonable care and maintenance. The property owner should accompany the caution sign with other actions, such as blocking the entrance to a faulty elevator to prevent dangers and accidents.
So if there's reason to believe that the property owner was partly or fully responsible for the injury, you can still pursue the case with the help of an experienced premises liability attorney.
Only Property Owners Are Legally Responsible for Premises Liability Cases
Aside from the owner of a premise where the injury occurred, other responsible people such as property managers or workers can also be sued for negligence. Additionally, the manufacturer can also be held liable if the injury was caused by faulty equipment due to a manufacturing defect.
You Can't Be Compensated if the Property Owner Wasn't Aware of the Defective Condition of the Premise
Since property owners are bound to provide reasonable care and maintenance to their premises, they should have known of any impending dangers to visitors at the premises. They also must address any dangers as promptly as possible to reduce the chances of accidents.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Attorney for Your Obscure Premises Liability Case
Even the most straightforward premises liability case can turn upside down if you don't have the right personal injury attorney to represent you. It’s possible that you’ll make mistakes when filing an obscure premises liability lawsuit, and that’s why you need an experienced attorney.
Based on their experience and knowledge of state-specific personal injury laws, this attorney can help determine the party responsible for the injury and also help you prove it.
Besides, dealing with an injury and following up on a claim at the same time is torturous. You may end up losing hope, especially after experiencing the frustrations the defendant's lawyer might put you through, even though they know their client is at fault.
Some advantages of hiring a personal injury attorney include:
- Beating deadlines by filing the right paperwork on time.
- Collecting all the evidence needed to build your case.
- Talking to witnesses of the case to collect vital information.
- Hunting for more evidence to prove the negligence of the property owner.
- Giving you ample time to heal from injuries without stressing about the lawsuit.
- Fighting for the compensation you legally deserve.
Morgan & Morgan Is Here to Help You
When it comes to obscure premises liability cases, Morgan & Morgan is the best personal injury law firm in the US. For over 30 years, our attorneys have won over $15 billion dollars worth of claims in different types of lawsuits.
No matter the complexity of the circumstances surrounding the case, you can be sure that we've previously handled something similar or even more complex. Besides, we are familiar with personal injury laws in different states across the US, enabling us to effectively counter the tactics used by insurance companies to downplay their client’s responsibility.
So call us today at 877-605-1641 or send us a message online for a free case evaluation to begin the journey to compensation!