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Can You Sue Someone if You Are Injured on Their Property?

by John Gomez | Last Updated: January 4, 2022

Can You Sue Someone If You Are Injured On Their Property

Like everyone, at some point, you have to travel somewhere else for casual or business reasons. Whether people go to a store or government building, accidents can occur. Some groups have a higher risk of severe injuries.

While most situations happen due to negligence. A person with control over the building may have failed to act in time. As a result, you got hurt on their property. Since the accident was not your fault, you might wonder if you can sue the landowner.

Premises Liability Statistics

Swimming Pools

Some people suffer from a swimming pool incident when they visit someone else’s property. Pool equipment can cause an injury, or a swimmer could kick another person accidentally. Pool chemicals cause about 4,535 yearly emergency room visits.

Children are more at risk of swimming pool accidents. Drownings are common among minors between the ages of 1 and 14. Each year, children face over 8,080 non-fatal drownings. Even if someone has a non-fatal drowning experience, they could deal with long-term health problems.

Slips and Falls

Another type of accident someone can experience on another’s property is a slip and fall. A person could slip, trip, or fall at a friend’s house, the sidewalk, a store, or the mall. Falls account for about one million hospital visits every year. About 39,443 people die at a private residence or public place annually.

Most injuries occur at ground level instead of at heights. While fatalities are even for both groups, women are more likely to experience a slip and fall than men. People over the age of 65 are more vulnerable to falls.

Dog Bites

Many states have strict liability rules for dog owners. Even if a person could not have known their pet would harm someone, they could face legal consequences. More than 1,000 people need to go to the emergency room each day in the United States. Some bites become infected, and other related injuries require surgery.

Every year, insurers pay roughly $854 million in dog bite claims. Claims include other dog-related injuries as well. Insurance companies spend a lot of money on compensation because of medical costs. The average price of a hospital stay is $18,200.

Can You Sue Someone for Injuries?

Some people are unsure if they can sue someone for an accident on the property. The answer is you can sue if the unsafe condition of the premises is due to negligence. An owner has a responsibility to keep others safe when they visit the land.

In most cases, either the property owner or manager is the party you would hold accountable for certain injuries. The party who controls the area needs to ensure wires are not exposed, and the floor needs to be clear of obstacles. Fences around a pool must meet legal requirements in most states, and stairs should undergo routine maintenance.

A person could run into a defect in a public area like a sidewalk. Since the law reduces the government’s immunity to lawsuits in specific cases, you could sue your local municipality. The government employee, like a supervisor, might have failed to keep the place safe.

As long as the negligence was within the person’s scope of employment, an injured person could seek compensation. A municipality could be responsible for the act or omission of an independent contractor. The plaintiff has to show the government hired the contractor and had control over the quality of the work.

A premises liability attorney can gather evidence to determine which party is at fault. If you sue the local government for an incident, you may need to follow specific procedures.

Can You Sue for Premises Liability if Another Individual Harmed You?

Many premises liability cases are due to hazardous floors, defective equipment, and chemicals. Some injuries are the result of another person rather than an object. Could you sue the property owner if an individual causes your injuries?

Typically, people who control property have a responsibility to protect people from wrongful acts. Negligent security is a common type of premises liability lawsuit. However, you would need to prove the property manager knew or should have known about the risk of violence.

Crowded venues usually correlate to an increased risk of harm. Buildings have to take safety precautions to help minimize these risks. Trained security guards, adequate lighting, and cameras would, generally, fulfill the landowner’s duty to keep visitors safe.

If the owner does not implement proper measures, you could sue for the injuries another individual caused.

What Is the Law for Premises Liability?

A premises liability law could apply if you suffer from an accident on another person’s property at no fault of your own. Every state has a statute regarding injuries on properties, but the rules could vary where you live. Overall, a premises liability law rests on the idea that your injuries were the result of a negligent act and/or omission.

You would need to prove how the property owner failed to keep you safe. Whether the negligence was defective conditions or fires, injured people have the chance to get reimbursement.

One way the law is different between states is the application of visitor status. Most jurisdictions require property owners to exercise a reasonable amount of care. Some places use the status of a guest to determine the owner’s duties. A person could be an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.

An invitee is someone who has the property manager’s explicit or implied permission to be on the premises. The person shows up for commercial or business reasons. Salespeople would be an example. A landowner has to maintain the property for safety.

You could arrive at a venue as a licensee instead. A licensee has the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter as well. Unlike an invitee, you would visit for your own purpose with no mutual professional relationship.

Some licensees include friends, family members, and neighbors. Customers in a retail store are licensees, and managers have to keep a safe environment.

In some cases, the visitor is a trespasser. Trespassers do not have permission to enter a property. Generally, a property owner owes no duty of care to trespassers.  The rules can be complex based on where someone lives.

You should review the laws of your state and contact a local attorney for any questions you may have.

How the Law Applies to Minors

Usually, property owners owe children a greater duty of care than adults. Minors are more vulnerable to accidents and injuries. Places like public swimming pools require additional safety measures. Many states have special rules if a child gets hurt on another person’s property.

Under normal circumstances, a dog owner could argue the victim had provoked the animal. However, some places consider children too young to place at-fault for dog-related injuries. The required age for the rule to apply may vary based on the state. The law in one jurisdiction could make the minor automatically innocent if they are under five years old.

Other premises liability cases tend to favor child victims as well. They might use the attractive nuisance doctrine to hold the landowner responsible for damages. An attractive nuisance is an object on a piece of land to which a child could become attracted. A playground, swimming pool, and pond would be examples of an attractive nuisance.

Under the doctrine, a property manager should know if the object would endanger children. The area should be free of hazardous conditions, and security measures should be in place. Landowners are responsible for accidents even if the underage victim trespassed at the time.

You should seek the help of a lawyer if your child was injured on someone else’s property so you can better understand how premises liability laws apply to your situation.

How to Prove Negligence

Before you can recover damages, you need to provide proof the defendant is liable. To start, people who control property have to meet a standard of conduct to keep the land secure.

The duty of care may vary based on the circumstances of the case. Landlords could have a different level of responsibility than property managers. If the landowner does not meet the applicable standard of care, you could argue they breached their legal duty.

A property manager should have known about the problem and acted in time to prevent injury. If they have to cause unsafe conditions for a legitimate reason, they need to put down warnings or barriers. The failure to do so may be a violation of their legal responsibilities.

The next element of a premises liability claim is if the breach of duty led to injuries. In a few cases, the action or inaction did not result in an accident directly. The injuries must be a foreseeable consequence of the landowner’s breach. Damages include emotional suffering, healthcare costs, and missed days from work.

Once you demonstrate the property owner’s negligence, you are a step closer to obtaining compensation for your injuries. Evidence can link the liable party’s actions to the accident. Witness statements, video footage, and pictures are helpful pieces of evidence.

Common Defenses

Assumption of Risk

A firm can improve your chances of a settlement for your claim. One reason is a lawyer is familiar with the arguments the defendant or their insurer may use to dismiss your case. A common defense is the assumption of risk.

The business or property owner would show you knew and understood the risks and exposed yourself voluntarily. People at a swimming pool might know about the increased risk of slippery ground. Perhaps, the insurer might say visitors at an amusement park knew of the dangers of the rides.

Shift the Blame

An insurance adjuster usually tries to minimize how much the company pays in a settlement. One way is to shift the blame onto the injured person. If the defendant can prove you were at fault, even if you were only slightly at fault, your claim for damages may be discounted by the percentage of fault apportioned to you.

Pre-existing Conditions

Some parties argue pre-existing conditions are the cause of your injuries–not the accident on their property. The defendant may not deny liability, but linking a previous injury to your current one would lower your claim’s value. Usually, the other party’s insurance provider reaches out to you with specific, and targeted questions about your injuries.

The adjuster might request you to sign a medical authorization form. The document would allow the company to view previous medical records. The adjuster could see if a pre-existing condition is present.

Damages You Can Recover

An injured person can recover multiple damages in a premises liability claim. Someone could incur medical costs while they recover. Expenses include hospital stays, surgeries, medication, and physical therapy. Damages include future related healthcare costs as well.

Your personal property might have sustained damage after a fall or wrongful act. Phones, laptops, watches, and glasses could need repair or a replacement because of the accident. The money you spend to fix your property could raise the value of your claim.

Some injuries could mean you need to take multiple days off from work. If the incident was severe, you could have trouble earning money in the future. The lack of income can create a financial burden. Many people can recover their lost wages as part of their claim for damages.

Psychological trauma could increase your claim’s worth. Some people struggle with pain and suffering during their recovery. The court could have the negligent property owner pay for emotional damages, as well.

The injuries you receive may lead to long-term effects. As a result, you experience a loss of your ability to enjoy life. This is another example of the laundry list of items that you are entitled to recover as an injured plaintiff.

What to Do After an Accident

After you get into an accident on someone else’s property, you should alert the building owner or manager immediately. Take photos of the surrounding area. The images show how the at-fault party did not take the necessary steps to protect you. Your photos can include your injuries as well.

You should ask around to see if anyone saw the accident. If a witness was present, you need to collect their name and contact information. Your attorney can reach out to the individual later for a statement.

The next step is to visit a doctor to treat your injuries. You might not feel pain soon after the incident, but an examination could disclose internal damages that are not readily apparent to the naked eye. Once you have recovered from your injuries, you should contact a lawyer. A consultation about your claim with an experienced attorney can help you understand what you can expect to recover.

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