When you are on someone else’s property and suddenly find yourself injured, your life can do a total 180. You could end up needing stitches, a cast, or surgery, and that’s not to mention the emotional trauma an injury can take. You might lose a lot of your income from time off work and medical bills. And, to top it all off, you might feel like the owner of the property could have prevented the incident.
There are a lot of premises liability types, but the most important thing to know is that owners are liable for preventing accidents, and there are some practical limitations to these types of liability cases. Most places of business have enough insurance to cover liability, and homeowner’s insurance covers it in most circumstances as well. That means you have grounds to file a claim if you’ve been the victim of a preventable injury on someone else’s property.
Premises Liability Case Types
There are quite a few different types of premises liability cases. The ones you’ll hear most about in the media include unrestrained dogs biting people, slip and fall accidents, and lackluster security resulting in crimes being committed. However, there are many more types of premises liability, and a knowledgeable Chicago premises liability lawyer can fill you in on them.
The Four Elements of Premises Liability
In any premises liability case, you have to be able to prove the four elements of premises liability in order to win your case. You need to prove that the defendant in your case either owned or occupied the location when your injury happened. Even if the business owner leased the building from a strip mall, they still have premises liability.
Second, you must prove that the defendant was negligent in maintaining the premises. Even if you cannot establish that the defendant broke a safety rule, you can prove negligence. You do, however, have to prove the third element – that you suffered a visible injury. If you’re able to do that, you might also be able to claim damages for mental anguish or other types of intangible trauma.
Finally, you must prove that the negligence of the defendant in your case caused your injury. After you do this, you will start settlement negotiations. Depending on various factors, you could be entitled to a substantial amount of compensation.
Providing Proof in a Premises Liability Case
Your visitor’s status will dictate the duty a premises owner owes you. If you are an invitee to the business on request from the owner or a customer who came into a store that is open to the public, you must be protected against dangers that an owner would reasonably foresee. These are things that would be found during a general property inspection or that the owner would know about just by being present.
Licensees must also be protected by the owners. If you were working as a city employee on the premises or if you stopped by unannounced to visit a friend, you still need to be protected by the owner.
Things are trickier if you were trespassing. Premises liability coverage can cover certain types of trespassers, and the act of trespassing can have legal repercussions. The owner cannot use intentional harm to keep trespassers out but can use justifiable force (such as a barbed wire fence). Children, however, might not know they’re trespassing, so owners can bear liability in some cases.
Negligence isn’t always cut-and-dry. If you were partially at fault for the injuries, the insurance carrier will likely try to place some of the blame on you. In some states, this means you’ll lose part of the damages the court considers to be your fault. Let’s say the court finds you to be 25% at fault; you will lose 25% of your damages. Those found to be 50% or more at fault might receive nothing and might even have to pay damages to the other party involved.
Damages and Causation
When proving the damages you deserve, you must prove causation. Medical records, photographs of your injuries, and medical expert testimony can all help your case. Damages can be claimed for pain and suffering, medical bills, and lost wages.
You probably won’t have to prove that the other party was 100% responsible for what happened to you, but if they are a government entity, compensation won’t be possible if you are determined to be even 1% at fault. This is called contributory fault, and you will have to prove that they were 100% at fault. Doing this without a personal injury lawyer on your side is next to impossible.
Proving causation and getting compensation for injuries can be challenging. That is why it’s a good idea to hire a premises injury attorney to help fight for you in court. You will have a better chance of getting all the damages you deserve.