Finding yourself injured while on another person’s property can be problematic, and one which can leave many of us confused over our rights. Do we have the right to sue? Who will pay if our injuries leave us unable to work? And what happens if we are found to be at fault for the accident? Premises liability can be a confusing legal area, and you will need experienced and qualified professionals on your side to help secure the outcome you deserve.
What Does ‘Premises Liability’ Mean?
In the simplest terms, premises liability describes the responsibility held by every property owner for any damages which arise due to the injury of a visitor while on their property. If a personal injury is suffered as a result of an unsafe condition, the property owner may find themselves liable for any damages.
In most cases, the property owner’s duty of care will be owed to any visitors on their property. As a result, an accident or injury to this visitor becomes the responsibility of the owner. As with many areas of law, however, things are not that simple.
To prove a premises liability case, the victim of the injury must prove that the property owner was negligent or reckless with regards to the maintenance or ownership of the property—also known as a failure to demonstrate reasonable care. The victim must also prove that this negligence or recklessness contributed directly to the injury. Only when all of these criteria are met will the property owner be liable for damages.
Are All Visitors Equal?
In addition to proving that the injuries were a result of the property owner’s actions (or lack thereof), the victim must also ensure that their relationship passes the threshold required to claim damages. This depends on whether they are classified as an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser. Each category offers its own requirements, and the classification of the victim effects the rest of the case.
- Invitees: those with either implied or explicit permission to be on the property, directly obtained from the property owner. Any owner will have a duty of reasonable care to any invitee.
- Licensee: those with implied or explicit permission to be on-site, but who also have their own reasons for entering the property, rather than merely a social visit. Tradespeople, couriers, postal workers, and salespeople will all fall under this category. Once again, there is a duty of care between the property owner and the licensee.The former is required to warn the latter of dangerous conditions which may create an unreasonable risk of harm. For this to qualify, the owner must have been aware of the condition and the licensee must have been unlikely to discover it on their own.
- Trespassers: those without any permission to access the property. They are not owed a duty of care from the property owner, with the exception of children.
What Damages Can I Claim?
In the event that your case is successful, you may be in a position to obtain damages and compensation from the property owner. These can cover costs, including:
- Medical expenses, both at the time of the accident and in the future
- Loss of earnings, including reduced earning capacity as a result of the injury
- Adaptations to the home or car of the victim, if required
It is important to note that the concept of contributory negligence applies in Alabama. This rule prohibits you from claiming damages or compensation if a judge rules that you are at fault for your accident. This essentially absolving the property owner of premises liability.
You may be blamed for the incident if it can be proven that you failed to pay due care and attention to where you were going, or if your injury occurred on an area of the property not open to visitors. In addition, if the reason for the injury was clearly marked or should have been visible and you ignored signage or warnings, you may also be blamed. Footwear is another consideration; if it is deemed to be unsafe, you could be prevented from claiming damages.
What Should I Do If I Think I Have a Case?
If you have suffered an injury on a third party’s property, you may have a case for premises liability. Here at Pharr & Associates Injury Attorneys, we work hard to help our clients achieve the outcome they deserve, as well as any financial compensation. Contact the team today and see how we can help.