Property owners must keep their premises safe and hazard-free for visitors, patrons, and the public. They must protect people from icy sidewalks, falling objects, and other hidden dangers. Those who don’t take reasonable precautions to correct problems can injure and harm others. If they don’t, these property owners may be negligent under premises liability law.
Were you recently injured due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property? Contact The Robert Pahlke Law Group today. Our Nebraska personal injury lawyers get clients the representation they deserve. Call us at (308) 633-4444 to schedule a free consultation.
Trust The Robert Pahlke Law Group to Handle Your Case
The Robert Pahlke Law Group has more than 85 years of experience in personal injury law. Our firm helps injured people get the justice they deserve. Our firm has successfully litigated many premises law cases, and aspires to provide strong representation for clients and, if necessary, offer the highest odds of courtroom success.
What Is Premises Law?
Premises liability law applies to all premises owners and managers. Under the law, property owners can be liable for accidents or injuries that occur on their premises. These areas include:
- Commercial buildings
- Government property
- Private homes
- Rental properties.
Did a property owner’s negligence injure you? Don’t wait. Get advice from one of the Pahlke Law Group’s personal injury attorneys as soon as possible.
General Premises Liability Claims
Premise liability cases involve ordinary negligence. Property owners are liable for injuries that occur on their land. These suits hinge on whether the landowner acted reasonably to make their premises hazard-free. In these cases, plaintiffs must prove the property owner’s negligence injured them. There are several legal standards victims must meet to prove a premises liability claim:
- The defendant must own, lease, or occupy the premises. Owners must make sure their property is in good condition.
- The owner owed a duty to the plaintiff. A victim must show that the property owner had a duty to protect them. The visitor’s status determines the property owner’s legal duty to them.
- There was a breach of duty. The property owner must keep their premises in good condition. They should cut down hazards that could hurt others. A negligent property owner who doesn’t exercise care to eliminate dangers can be liable.
- The property’s owner’s negligence caused your injuries. The plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s actions or inaction led to their injuries. Victims must show their injuries were a foreseeable result when the property owner failed to exercise care.
For example, what if a business owner didn’t clean an icy sidewalk for days and a person slipped and injured themselves? The victim could claim that the owner should have known the icy sidewalk could harm the customer.
- The injuries caused significant damages. A person must show they’ve suffered trauma in the accident. These damages include lost wages, medical bills, pain and suffering, and other serious injuries.
The Visitor’s Status Matters in Premises Liability Claims
Your local jurisdiction will determine the owner’s responsibility based on a person’s status. There are three legal categories: invitees, licensees, or trespassers.
- Invitees – This person visits the premises for the defendant’s financial benefit. The property is open to the public. Owners owe a duty of reasonable care to invitees and must ensure their premises are safe for other visitors.
- Licensees – A licensee is a person that has the implied or express permission to enter the premises. A social guest is a licensee. An owner can ask a licensee to leave their property. If they refuse to leave, they can become a trespasser.
- Trespassers – These people make unlawful visits or stay on other people’s premises without permission. Even trespassers have limited protection under premises liability laws. Property owners generally owe no duty to this category, other than they can’t intentionally harm trespassers.
Ten Types of Premises Liability Cases
Most property owners must inspect their property for dangers before they injure others. They must correct these unsafe conditions. Additionally, they must warn others if they can’t correct these potential dangers immediately. Several personal injury incidents fall under the premises liability category. These case include:
- Accidents caused by ice and snow – According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, more than 70 percent of the U.S. population lives in snowy regions. People can slip, trip, and fall due to snow and ice that accumulates on sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways.
- Slip and fall incidents – The World Health Organization says falls are the second-leading cause of accidental deaths. Each year, almost 646,000 people die in falls globally. The organization says that many fall-related deaths and injuries are preventable. Property owners must create safer environments to reduce fall-related risks on their premises.
- Poor security that led to an assault and injury. Negligent security is another area of premises liability. In these cases, a third-party injures the plaintiff. The victim tries to hold the property owner responsible for their injuries. This trauma may arise from an assault, battery, robbery, or rape.
- Substandard maintenance of premises. There is an implied belief that a property is safe when business owners invite the public to visit. Dangerous properties can also expose a visitor to an unreasonable risk of injury.
- Animal and dog bites – A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study found that dogs bite 4.5 million people every year in the United States. Many of these injuries are not serious, but 885,000 dog bite victims need medical care. Some victims must stay home from work to recuperate. Other suffer a permanent disfigurement. Most states make pet owners responsible for the injuries or damages caused by their pets.
- Swimming pool accidents – Most swimming pool accidents involve drownings. The CDC says 3,536 fatal drownings occur annually. About ten drowning deaths take place every day.
Asphyxia causes most drowning-related injuries and deaths. A person can lose consciousness within three minutes under water. The body’s loss of oxygen leads to cerebral hypoxia. Brain damage or death can happen within a few minutes. A person can suffer permanent brain damage due to drowning.
Laws require property owners to keep their pool safe. Most swimming pool accidents occur when these facilities aren’t guarded or locked. Families can bring personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death suits against negligent pool owners.
- Fires and burns – Every year, 1.4 million Americans suffer burns in fires. These complex injuries can damage the body’s organ systems and even kill. Accidental fires are a primary cause of burns. Other causes involve chemicals, electrocution, and radiation. An owner can be liable if they have an unsafe workplace or failed to uphold current fire codes.
- Floods and water leaks – A landlord must make sure their premises are habitable. They must repair any pipes and plumbing in a rental unit. Additionally, they must keep the unit in good shape. Breaches of warranty occur when a landlord doesn’t fix plumbing problems that put you at risk. They can cause safety issues and illnesses related to mold growth.
- Toxic leaks and fumes – These cases are toxic torts. These occur when defendants use dangerous substances on their property that causes illness. For example, a construction company uses old barrels to contain chemicals. The rusty drums leak, spilling the toxic benzene into the groundwater. Several residents in a bedroom community develop leukemia because of these toxins. The residents can sue the construction company.
- Escalator and elevator accidents – According to the CDC, elevator and escalator accidents injure 17,000 people annually. Elevator accidents cause 90 percent of the deaths and 60 percent of injuries. Most occurred because workplaces didn’t have adequate inspection or maintenance programs. Some didn’t use qualified technicians to repair or maintain their elevators.
Common Property Hazards
Several hazards can injure people on commercial and private property. Here are a few examples:
- Slippery sidewalks
- Hidden hazards
- Uneven walking surfaces
- Broken stairs and handrails
- Exposed wires, nails, screws, and sharp objects
- Failure to salt sidewalks after heavy snow
- Dog bites
Injuries Related to Dangerous Premises
Here are some common injuries in premises liability cases:
- Broken bones – These injuries can require months of healing. A victim can endure months of physical rehabilitation and therapy.
- Traumatic brain injuries – These permanent injuries can cause issues with cognitive and behavioral issues.
- Head injuries – This head trauma can include concussions.
- Pelvic injuries – A broken hip or cracked pelvis can cause enormous pain. Injured people must undergo surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
- Torn tendons and ligaments – These injuries include sprains (wrists, knees, elbows, and ankles). Victims can also suffer a torn rotator cuff (the tendon and muscle group that connects the upper arm to the shoulder blade).
- Spine injuries – These accidents can result in serious injuries to the spine. They can cause disabilities that prevent a person from working.
Damages Related to Premises Liability Cases
A plaintiff can collect general compensatory damages if a premises liability case is successful. These include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional damages.
Other special damages include monetary issues the injured person incurred due to the accident. These are:
- Medical bills
- Cost of future medical services
- Household expenses
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Attorneys fees.
How Property Owners Avoid Responsibility
Some property owners try to avoid liability by saying the visitor was partly or fully responsible for the incident. They may claim the person is ineligible to collect damages. They may use comparative fault to mitigate their damages. This means courts limit damage amounts based on the degree of fault. A judge or jury will assign a percentage to each party’s responsibility.
For example, a person texting on their phone may not see where they’re walking. They can trip over a hazard and hurt themselves. The jury may say the person is 30 percent to blame because they failed to pay attention. Most courts will analyze the actions of the owners and visitors, and assign liability proportionally.
Hire a Robert Pahlke Law Group Attorney
You can schedule a free consultation with our law firm to review your case. The Robert Pahlke Law Group handles cases on a contingency basis: this means you pay nothing upfront to retain an attorney, and our attorneys will collect our fees from any settlement or judgment.
Did you suffer injuries from a preventable accident on a premises? Contact The Robert Pahlke Law Group. A Nebraska personal injury lawyer can review your case, and we can help you decide whether you have a suitable liability claim. You can contact us here or call (308) 633-4444.