What is a premises liability claim?
A premises liability claim is brought by a person who suffers a loss or is harmed when he or she is on another person’s property. The injury or loss should be a result of the property owner’s negligence.
Property owners are responsible for keeping their property safe for invited visitors. If property owners don’t warn visitors of dangers on the property, such as a hole in a sidewalk, or if they don’t keep the property safe by promptly repairing things like uneven pavement and broken stair railings, they may be responsible for injuries caused by those dangerous conditions.
The goal of a premises liability claim is to compensate the injured party for his or her economic damages (past and future medical expenses, lost wages, travel expenses, etc.) and pain and suffering. Since the injury would not have happened if the property owner had properly maintained the premises, the injured person and his or her family should not have to pay for the results of the property owner’s negligence or carelessness.
For example, John is a store owner and knows that the lights over the steps to his shop do not work consistently. Sometimes the lights go dark when they are supposed to be on. John has a duty to make sure the lights work so no one falls on the steps. If he does not take action to fix the lights or warn shoppers of the danger, and Jane falls because she can’t see the steps clearly, John is legally obligated to pay Jane’s medical bills, travel expenses, lost income if Jane was unable to go to work, and Jane’s pain and suffering resulting from her injuries.
Accidents that are generally considered the fault of the property owner include the property owner failing to
- fix holes, cracks or bumps in the ground within a reasonable amount of time.
- warn about an unsafe condition such as broken steps, frayed carpet, uneven ground, or wet floors.
- clean up soon enough after a dangerous spill in a store, restaurant, or other public place.
- provide adequate drainage for rain, or failing to remove rain and mud accumulation quickly enough.
- provide appropriate barriers such as handrails or balcony railings.
- provide appropriate safety equipment or allowing unrepaired or unsafe equipment to be used.
- adequately prevent burns from oil or other hot substances in a restaurant or commercial kitchen.
- properly store or dispose of hazardous items.
- ensure that elevators and escalators work properly.
Do I need to hire a premises liability attorney?
An experienced premises liability lawyer knows how to prove that a property owner is liable for your injuries. Not every accident that happens is the fault of a property owner. An experienced premises liability lawyer will listen to your story and tell you whether the property owner is at fault. If the lawyer thinks the property owner should compensate you for your injuries, the lawyer knows what has to be proven to win your case.
Premises liability cases are almost always vigorously defended. The injured person has to prove that
- she or he was invited onto the property and was not trespassing.
- the property owner had a duty to maintain the property in a safe manner for visitors (this is called a duty of care).
- the property owner failed to keep the property safe for visitors (this is called breaching the duty of care).
An experienced premises liability attorney knows how to obtain and present the evidence supporting your claim. An experienced premises liability lawyer also knows how to respond when the property owner says the accident was your fault instead of theirs.
How will a premises liability attorney help me?
An experienced premises liability attorney knows how to negotiate with business owners and insurance companies to get a fair settlement. An injury can affect your quality of life and your ability to provide for your family. Compensation for the injury can protect both your family and your future.
Common damages that are recoverable in premises liability cases include
- Medical care and related expenses
- Lost wages and future loss of earnings
- Property damage
- Emergency services
- Vocational rehabilitation
- Travel expenses
- Legal costs
- Emotional distress and mental anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Value of household services
The value of damages such as doctor bills and lost wages are straightforward. But there are also damages without an obvious price tag, such as pain and suffering, loss of future earnings, and value of household services. These losses are assigned a dollar value through the claims process.
Pain and suffering damages compensate an injured person for the loss in his or her quality of life. After an injury, you may experience a loss of enjoyment in family, social, professional, and educational experiences, such as when
- a parent can no longer pick up and carry his or her child.
- a devoted recreational runner can no longer run in races.
- a night student no longer has the stamina to work and go to school at the same time.
Unpaid tasks that keep a household running, such as yard work, housecleaning, cooking and shopping, laundry, and some caretaking of children and other family members, are called household services. Injured persons can be compensated for the value of the household services he or she provided before the injury but can no longer provide. The tasks must still be done so the family might have to pay for outside help, or a family member might take time off from work to keep the household running.
How much does it cost to hire an experienced premises liability attorney?
Premises liability attorney fees vary by law firm, but in general, the firm receives a percentage of the award or settlement in a premises liability case. The lawyers get paid after the case is resolved.
Cerritos Legal Services provides a free confidential consultation to evaluate your case. Once we take your case, you pay nothing until your case is settled. Our law office provides personalized service including referrals to claims specialists and medical experts. Our team helps you and your family handle your affairs while your case is being resolved. We even work with doctors and specialists who can provide treatment on a lien basis until your case is resolved.
Contact us today for your free consultation with a premises liability attorney Cerritos Legal: 562-865-9356.