Premises Liability

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to financial compensation.  Many different types of matters are considered premises liability cases, most frequently known as “slip and fall” cases.  Premises liability may include:

  • slip and fall cases
  • snow and ice accidents
  • inadequate maintenance of the premises
  • defective conditions on the premises
  • inadequate building security leading to injury or assault
  • elevator and escalator accidents
  • dog bites
  • swimming pool accidents
  • amusement park accidents
  • fires
  • water leaks or flooding, and
  • toxic fumes or chemicals.

What is a property owner or businesses duty to its guests on its premises?

If you are a guest or business invitee on someone else’s property, the property owner or business has an obligation to exercise reasonable care in the ownership and maintenance of the property.  This means that the property or business owner must keep its premises free from unreasonable hazards which could cause an injury.

However, the existence of a dangerous or defective condition on someone’s property is not enough to recover for injury.  Even if you have been injured on someone else’s property, the law requires the victim to prove that the property/business owner was negligent.  To prove negligence, you must prove that the property owner had notice of the dangerous or defective condition, and refused or failed to take proper action to fix the condition or warn its guests.

What are frequent causes of slip-and-falls on premises?

Slip (or trip) and fall cases involve when one falls on another’s property.  Some common conditions that can lead to a slip or trip and fall are:

  • defective staircases
  • accumulation of ice or snow
  • wet or oily floors
  • hidden extension cords
  • unsecured rugs, carpets or signs
  • thresholds
  • loose, broken or deteriorating floors, sidewalks, steps or stairs
  • foreign objects on the ground
  • defective or inadequate handrails, guardrails or lack of handicapped accessible access points
  • failure to remove ice/snow or place salt

How to prove negligence in a premises liability case?

An experienced premises liability attorney will aggressively investigate and obtain evidence to prove that the property/business owner was negligent.  Examples of evidence include:

  • videotapes or surveillance footage of the incident;
  • incident reports;
  • photographs of the scene;
  • witness statements;
  • architectural renderings of the premises;
  • sweep/mop logs;
  • employee statements;
  • employee handbooks and/or training manuals;
  • maintenance records;
  • medical records;
  • contracts with third party vendors such as security or custodial companies

What are the most common impediments to recovery in premises liability cases?

Insurance companies handle premises liability cases like any other type of claim.  Their first instinct is to try to find a way to deny your claim.  The two most common ways an insurance company will defend a premises liability claim include:

  1. Denying liability. Most commonly, the insurance company will argue that even though there was a dangerous or defective condition on their insured’s premises, they will argue that their insured did not have notice of the dangerous condition.
  2. Placing you at fault. Maryland, District of Columbia and Virginia are “contributory negligence” jurisdictions.  This means that if you are even 1% responsible for your injury, you are completely barred from making a recovery.  In a premises liability case, a popular defense is that the victim should have been paying attention to the dangerous condition, and their own carelessness contributed to the injury.

The best way to avoid the insurance company from using these defenses is to consult with an experienced premises liability injury as soon as possible.  Speaking to the insurance company, or giving a recorded statement, can be detrimental and even destroy your claim.  If you believe that you have a premises liability claim, speak to an attorney before speaking with the insurance company.

If I have been injured on someone’s property due to their negligence, what am I entitled to recover?

If you have been injured on someone else’s property due to the negligence of the business or property owner, you may be entitled to compensation for the following things:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost income
  • Future medical expenses if there is a permanent injury
  • Future lost income or diminished earning capacity of there is a permanent injury
  • Loss of consortium (if you are married and the injury affects your relationship with your spouse)
  • Pain, suffering and inconvenience

If you believe you have a premises liability claim, contact the experienced premises liability attorneys at Dross Berman LLC for a free consultation.