Premises Liability Frequently Asked Questions
- What is premises liability law?
- What is a premises liability claim?
- When is a property owner held liable for injuries on their property?
- I was injured at someone’s house and I want to file a claim. How do I get started?
- What happens if the person injured was trespassing on the property?
- What happens if I was injured on government-owned property?
- How can I strengthen my case?
What is a premises liability claim?
If you’re injured while on somebody else’s property, you might be able to file a premises liability claim and obtain redress if the property owner is found to be responsible in some way for your injury.
So for instance, if you fall down the escalator in a department store and break a limb, you might have a case if:
- The store owner had failed to fix a known defect in the escalator, such as a broken step or sudden jerks in its movement
However, if it was found that the escalator was in perfectly good condition, and you slipped and fell because you were talking to someone behind you and didn’t look to see where the step was, the store wouldn’t be responsible.
When is a property owner held liable for injuries on their property?
To obtain compensation for an injury sustained on someone else’s property, you have to show that there was a party whose negligence was responsible for your injury. This may sound obvious, but remember that sometimes people assume another person caused their injury and don’t think about what they themselves might have done to cause it.
Then, for that potentially negligent party to be held liable, you have to prove that it was foreseeable that his negligence would lead to injuries sooner or later. Then further, you must prove that:
- That party created the condition;
- That party knew the condition existed and negligently failed to correct it; or
- The condition existed for so long that the party should have found and fixed it before your injury happened.
Premises liability law can be very complex and every case is unique. It would be wise to consult a good accident lawyer for advice before you take any action.
I was injured at someone’s house and I want to file a claim.
How do I get started?
You must have a summons delivered to everyone involved. This is the legal notification to those people that they’re being sued, and it tells them when the deadline is for them to answer the summons and complaint. It’s usually delivered by a process server.
Before you jump into anything though, it’s wise to consult a personal injury attorney for advice on how best to proceed. The law in premises liability is complex.
- Business invitee -there for mutual business benefit
- Social guest -there for non-economic benefit
- Invitees -there for a purpose, such as to deliver something or fix something
- Trespassers -not legally there
So if one of these people was injured, the law would regard them differently depending on which category of visitors they belonged to.
However, these distinctions have become grayed-out more recently, and the law has tended to treat everyone the same way.
What happens if I was injured on government-owned property?
The laws governing liability on government-owned property are rather different from those governing privately-owned property. In many cases they waive any government responsibility. Also, there can be a very short statute of limitations, even as short as 30 days, for you to give notice to whichever government entity might be liable, whether it’s federal, state, or local.
You wisest step in this situation would be to consult an injury attorney immediately for advice on how to proceed.
- Keep copies of all your medical receipts, records of treatment, and prescriptions.
- Be sure and mention all your injuries to your doctor(s) so that the doctor’s records can be used when the insurance company evaluates your claim.
- If there are any witnesses, obtain their names and contact information, and write down their remarks as to what they saw.
- If possible, take photos of the scene and of your injuries. Take as many as you can, from different angles to show a full picture, and from different distances, to show both detail and context.
- Don’t sign any papers from any insurance company without first consulting a personal injury attorney. Especially don’t sign any authorization to allow the insurance company to see your medical records.
Be aware that insurance companies make their money by investing, which means that the less they pay out in claims, and the longer they can delay any such payment, the more interest they can collect on their invested cash. So any initial offer of compensation they make to you will almost certainly be less than what you’re entitled to.
Jay Trucks & Associates, in Flint Michigan, are personal injury attorneys who have successfully represented thousands of injured people and collected millions of dollars on their behalf. We are strong advocates for the injured and tough negotiators with the insurance industry.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.