While this post may provide you with a basic overview, it is not a replacement for the expertise of our lawyers here at Umbrella Injury Law. We encourage you to contact us after reading through this information to ensure your questions are fully answered and to protect your rights as you navigate your personal injury claim.
If you have suffered an injury on someone else’s property, you may wonder if liability (fault) lies with the owner of those premises, or you may assume that the owner is automatically liable. However, this is not always the case.
According to the law, owners owe certain responsibilities to those who may find themselves on the owner’s property. If owners fail to maintain a certain standard of safety (keeping their property free from dangerous conditions or defects), they may be in breach of that responsibility owed, and can be found liable for injuries suffered.
The most common types of property liability cases are:
- Roadway and Sidewalk Defects
- Dog Bites
- Inadequate Lighting
If you are injured as a result of property liability, you may be entitled to receive compensation of your medical costs, lost income, housekeeping losses, out-of-pocket expenses, as well as pain and suffering.
So, who is responsible?
This is the main issue in determining whether to pursue a personal injury claim. There are some general factors to take into consideration when trying to ascertain liability:
- The legal status of the visitor to the premises
- The condition of the property
- If the person injured is a trespasser or a child
- When both the owner and the visitor is at fault for an injury
Legal Status of Visitor
Generally, a ‘visitor’ fits into one of four categories: invitee, guest, licensee, or trespasser. An invitee is someone who is invited onto the property by invitation, or in the case of a business, by the nature of expectation of selling and purchasing certain goods or services. A guest is simply defined as a welcome visitor to the property. Visitors of these two categories can generally assume that the property owner has taken reasonable steps to ensure safe premises.
A licensee enters the property for a specific purpose and is present at the consent of the owner. A trespasser has no consent (direct or implied) to be on the owner’s property. In the case of licensees and trespassers, there can generally be no assumption that reasonable care has been made to ensure safe premises.
Condition of the Property
Determining whether the condition that resulted in the injury was foreseeable and whether the efforts made to address, repair or warn visitors to a dangerous condition will be paramount in determining liability.
If the injured person is a trespasser or child
The law can be tricky in the instance of a trespasser. If you are concerned that you may not have had a right to be on the property but still feel the owner had a duty to warn you of potential harm, please contact one of our lawyers.
If a property owner has an expectation that a child is likely to be on their premises, they may have an additional obligation to give proper notice regarding dangerous conditions or issues. If the injured person is a child, please contact one of our lawyers.
Both the owner and the visitor at fault
It may be determined that the owner did owe you a duty of care, but that you also share some of the responsibility for the issue that cased your injury. If this is the case, you can expect that any potential award will be divided based on the percentage you were found to be responsible. For example, if you were found to 25% liable for the resulting injury, and the total amount awarded to you is $10,000, your award will be reduced by 25% to $$7,500.
What can I do to help determine if I should pursue a case?
If you are able, take pictures of the issue that caused you to be injured. In the case of broken bones, bites or bruising, take pictures of your injury as it heals.
Record the names and numbers of any witnesses. If applicable, note the weather conditions at the time of the injury.
If applicable, note the footwear you were wearing. Until your case is resolved, try to keep the footwear in the condition it was at that time of the injury.
Report the accident to the property owner so an incident report can be generated, and important facts can be recorded when the details are fresh. Reporting the issue will hopefully put the owner on notice so that they can address the issue and keep others from suffering injury. If the injury was serious enough to warrant emergency medical attention, make a police report.
Attend upon your medical provider as soon as possible to document the severity of the injury and the steps necessary to address and treat the injury over time. It is also beneficial to keep a diary of your healing process, and maintain your receipts for any out-of-pocket expenses you incur (ie: treatment, medication, specialty devices such as crutches, etc). Also, be sure to note whether you have missed work or school as a result of your injuries.
If you had to hire outside help to assist with your household duties due to your inability to do these tasks yourself as a result of the injury (cooking, cleaning, driving, yard or property maintenance, etc.), keep your receipts for these additional expenses.
Lastly, keep in mind that an adult* has two years from the date of the accident to file a claim. The sooner you contact one of our lawyers to discuss your injury, the better we can assist and guide you through this process.
* For a child (under the age of 18) the claim limitation is suspended until he or she reaches the age of 18. It is then that the two year limitation period begins. For example, if a child was 14 years old when they were injured, he or she has two years from the date that they turn 18 to initiate a claim. There are many variables when it comes to children being injured and speaking to one of our lawyers as soon as possible after the injury can help you determine the child’s rights are protected.
What can I expect after I retain a lawyer at Umbrella Injury Law?
One of our lawyers will want to meet with you, if at all possible, to obtain documents such as police reports, name(s) of the property owner(s) or employees (in the case of a business) with whom you have dealt with, medical records, etc. We will investigate the details of your claim and help you navigate the complex and lengthy process of personal injury claims. When you have reached maximum medical improvement (where you have healed or are as healed as you are going to be), we will then work to establish your medical status – are you fully recovered or have you sustained permanent injury from the accident, and only then, attempt to negotiate settlement of your claim through the at-fault party’s insurance company, through mediation, or through trial.
We hope this summary answers some of your questions. It is now more important than ever to contact the lawyers at Umbrella Injury Law to discuss your accident and address the questions you have. At Umbrella Injury Law, We Got You Covered.