Sustaining an injury on another person’s property can leave you with high medical bills and other injury-related costs. Did you know that a property owner is legally obligated to ensure that their property is safe for visitors, especially when the public will be using that property?
What is premises liability?
Premises liability revolves around who can be held responsible when you are injured on someone else’s property. These are a special type of personal injury case.
What many people do not realize is that they may be eligible for compensation if the negligence or carelessness of the property owner contributed to the injury. An experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney will be able to help an injured person receive compensation for in injury that occurs in this way.
Steps to take if you are injured on someone’s property
There are certain things that you need to do in a premises liability case that you may not think about right away.
Seeking medical attention is your first priority. If you have serious injuries, ensure someone calls 911 so you can get evaluated by EMS and taken to the hospital. If your injuries are not serious enough for an ambulance, you still need to go to the doctor. In many cases, we may not realize we are injured in the immediate aftermath of an incident. Signs and symptoms of an injury may not develop for hours or days after a premises incident. Let a doctor diagnose you. By seeking immediate medical attention, you are ensuring that a link is established between the incident and your injuries.
Gather all the evidence you can. If you are able to do so, begin documenting the scene with your phone. Take pictures of anything relevant to the incident (evidence of wet floors, poor maintenance, etc.). Rest assured that as soon as you leave, all evidence will disappear. Were there warning signs of hazardous conditions? If not, be sure to document that as well.
Gather witness information. If anyone saw what happened, get their name and contact information. You may need their help later on if the property owner challenges your injury claim.
Notify the property owner of your injury. Regardless of where you are (at a store, construction site, amusement park, etc.), the property owner should be notified. They should have protocols in place for what to do if an injury occurs on their property. Give the property owner (or their designated employee) as much information about the incident as possible. Be sure not to admit fault in the incident. For example, if you were looking at your phone but slipped in a puddle of soapy water, do not be tempted to say, “Look, this was partially my fault.” They will put this in the report and use it against you when settlement time comes.
Seek legal advice from a qualified and experienced premises liability attorney who can handle all aspects of your case. It is vital that you have an advocate by your side for a premises liability case. You can be sure the other side and their insurance company will have a legal team ready to do anything they can to reduce a payout.
Obligations of property owners
Property owners in Colorado have a duty to care for those on their property, but this duty to care differs depending on who is on their property and whether or not they have the right to be there.
Though many elements of a premises liability case are the same as personal injury cases, there are some distinct differences that you need to be aware of.
Differences between an invitee, a licensee, and a trespasser
An invitee is a person who has the property owner’s permission to be on the property. This permission can be expressed directly by the property owner or it can be implied. Invitees are usually:
those shopping at a business
areas open to the public
A licensee is a person who has the permission of the property owner to be there but is coming onto the property for their own purposes. This typically includes:
social guess to a party
A trespasser is a person who does not have permission to be on the property.
The duty of care varies depending on whether the person is an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.
For invitees, the property owner has a must to keep their property reasonably safefor their guest.
For licensees, the property owner owes a lesser duty of care. However, they should warn licensees of dangerous conditions that create an unreasonable risk of harm. This applies if the property owner knows about the hazardous condition, and the licensee is not likely to discover the hazard on their own.
In most cases, trespassers are not owed a duty of care by the property owner unless the trespasser is a child. Property owners should do what they can to prevent incidents of reasonably foreseeable risks to children, even if they are trespassing.
Who can be held liable for injuries?
Premises liability cases can be brought against a variety of different types of property owners. All of the following can face a premises liability lawsuit:
Lessors of property
Private residence owners
Anyone that has a reasonable duty to care for the people on their property and violates that duty may be held liable in a premises liability case.
Common types of premises liability cases
Slip and fall/trip and fall incidents – Slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of premises injuries. According to the National Floor Safety Institute, over one million people go to the emergency room each year due to slip and fall injuries. These incidents happen for a variety of reasons, including wet floors, loose carpeting/floor material, stairs that have no grip or are broken, parking lot defects, low-lying obstacles or cords, and more.
Poor maintenance – When property owners fail to regularly inspect their premises and repair any damage, they could be held liable for any injuries that occur to invitees and licensees. This includes repairing any stairs, store displays, benches, shelves, elevators, doorways, and more.
Restaurants – Restaurant owners and operators need to be aware of the increased slip and fall potential. They should also take steps to ensure food is stored, prepared, and cooked properly to ensure their patrons do not get ill.
Swimming pool and hot tub issues – Businesses and private residence owners that have pools and hot tubs on the premises need to take steps to ensure children do not have access to them. This often means having a fence around them with a gate that locks. An unguarded swimming pool is a liability.
Security concerns – Certain property owners need to take additional steps to ensure their invitees and licensees are safe by providing adequate security. This can include having security personnel present, surveillance equipment, working locks, and more. Apartment complex owners, hotels, and many businesses need to be aware of security concerns at all times.
Private residences – Premises liability includes private residence owners. They also need to ensure guests are reasonably safe from hazards.
Getting injured due to the negligence of a property owner or their employees could entitle you to the following compensation:
Coverage of all medical bills related to the incident
Lost income and benefits if you cannot work while recovering
Short- or long-term disability coverage
Pain and suffering damages
Loss of enjoyment of life damages
Possible punitive damages against any negligent party in your case
Why Consider Elksus & Sisson To Work On Your Premises Liability Claim?
Skilled Investigation and Careful Preparation
With over 15 years of experience, the talented law firm at Elkus & Sisson, P.C. is committed to helping their clients achieve the results they are looking for. We always keep your goals in mind and are able to deliver the power and influence of a big firm with the attention and service of a smaller office.
Working Together to Achieve Results
The personal injury lawyers at Elkus & Sisson, P.C. are committed to helping their clients achieve the results they are looking through a strong attorney client relationship. We always keep your goals in mind and are able to deliver the power and influence of a big firm with the attention and service of a smaller office.
“This was the first time I was involved in a premise liability lawsuit and Steven Mandelaris completely helped me through this very difficult situation. He took care of me from start to finish. Steven recommended an amazing doctor who was able to get me feeling back to normal again. I will always appreciate this attorneys professionalism, knowledge and compassion he gave me as he understood my pain and suffering. I couldn't work and I was in school at the time, I had to quit school due to not feeling well from the fall. Steven was always available when I called or if I sent an e-mail he responded to me immediately. He completed all the paperwork and there wasn't any stress put on me as he is very organized. The settlement ran smoothly and I was kept well informed until the very end. It was a quick and painless process. Thank you, Steve I really, really appreciate all of your hard work and everything you have done for me! I very highly recommend you!”