Accidents happen, but business owners and everyone who owns a public access property are mandated to provide and maintain a safe environment. They must also take precautions against potential risks and alert visitors to them.
According to a slip and fall accident lawyer in New Orleans, ” These precautions can be neglected by careless property owners, which increases the risk of slip-and-fall accidents and injury”.
What is worse is when liable businesses refuse to take responsibility for these accidents when you approach them for compensation for help with medical bills. Insurance companies sometimes make things difficult as they pin the accident on the victim to avoid liability. This can lead to weeks or months of lost wages and probably medical bills while you wait for compensation.
This article discusses what you need to know about premises liability laws.
Premises liability laws: What you need to know
The rules governing premises liability state that a property owner, whether residential or commercial, must keep the area reasonably safe for anyone who would come onto the property. Simply put, premises liability laws are put in place for property owners to understand their obligation to the public and what compensations for accidents on their premises are due. This puts the burden of safety on the property owner at all times.
There are cases where a rented public place is used for business. If you happen to work in such a place and you sustain an injury within the premises, you may be able to receive benefits from both workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim.
Elements of a Premises Liability Case
While premises liability laws put the burden of personal injury on the property owner, the victim must have an airtight case. For an airtight case, you must meet certain elements. Without these elements, the property owner is not liable for any injuries, and you cannot claim personal injury compensation. Below are some of these elements.
Duty of Care
Duty of care is conferred on the property owner when the victim was there legally before the accident as an invitee or a licensee.
A tenant renting an apartment, a patron sitting at his favorite table in his favorite coffee shop, and a guest visiting someone or attending an event at a public access property are examples of legal occupants liable to compensation in the case of accidents.
Trespassers are not owed anything in this scenario unless they have a strong argument about the cause of their injury.
A breach of duty occurs when the property owner fails to ensure the safety of their property. Proving this is the responsibility of the victim and their legal representative.
Proof of Causality
For an accident victim, it is not enough to prove that the property is unsafe or that the owner breached his duty of care. You must also prove that the accident was caused by the owner’s breach.
For instance, in a slip-and-fall accident, while there is a case for not having slippery floors at a public access property, the owner may have had a caution sign that you ignored/missed. You might not be able to make a claim as the property owner did not break any premises liability law.
This element of a premises liability case is one of the trickiest to navigate.
Proof of Actual Harm or Damage
For any premises liability case, there must be proof that the victim suffered actual harm. This means the victim must provide medical reports or physical evidence (pictures) of the injury or financial records (wages lost due to injury or medical fee receipts).
Comparative and Contributory Negligence
Sometimes, invitees or licensees of public properties see risk and dive head-first into it, leading to accidents. In such cases, personal injury claims may be dismissed altogether, or they will receive lesser compensation. Many owners in premises liability cases try to use this to their advantage. When it is dismissed altogether, it is called Contributory negligence. The court will deem the victim of not being careful enough. In some states, contributory negligence rules out any compensation.
How to Navigate Premises Liability Cases
There are four ways to navigate premises liability claims legally. However, you will need your attorney. Your attorney will guide you through the process and get you the compensation you deserve.
Here are the four legal ways to navigate premises liability cases.
Demand Letter: Your lawyer will send a letter to the property owner with evidence to support your claims.
Negotiation: Typically, negotiation occurs between the legal representatives of both parties. The property owner responds with a letter to invite you to settlement, and negotiation begins.
Mediation: Where both parties fail to settle, a third party comes to help the process.
Trial: Where mediation fails after an initial attempt to settle also fails, a jury will hear your cases at a trial.