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A brief guide to premises liability claims

17th December 2020 Print

Commercial and residential property owners must take every precaution to prevent accidents in or around their property. If they don’t, the property owner is liable for any injuries that result from their failures. Premises liabilities are classified as any accidents that resulted from the property owner’s failure to provide a safe property to visitors or customers.

Owners are required to warn visitors of any hazards that pose a risk to visitors, and if the property owner doesn’t warn them, they could become the defendant in a lawsuit. The hazards include any condition that could lead to personal injuries for visitors. Reviewing laws pertaining to premises liabilities helps victims discover where to start with a legal claim.

What Caused the Accident?

With premises liabilities, they are classified as any hazard that could produce an injury. They are not limited to just slip and fall accidents, and a claim can be filed against any property owner that failed to provide a safe property for their visitors. They could include situations where the property owner or host failed to provide adequate security during a public event. The events may also include injuries sustained when swimming in a neighbor’s pool. If a child is injured while playing on a public playground, it is considered a premises liability. Victims of these events can contact attorneys at Uvalle Law Firm to find out more about filing a legal claim.

Did the Property Owner Know About the Hazard?

Proving that the property owner was aware of the hazard is the key to substantiating a premises liability claim. It must be a condition that the property owner knew about and failed to act and ensure that visitors do not sustain injuries. The location of the hazard must be where there isn’t any question that the property owner saw it and just didn’t follow the necessary steps to correct it or warn visitors about it.

How Badly Was the Victim Injured?

The injuries sustained by the victim determine how substantial a claim the victim has against the property owner. If the injuries are severe or life-altering, they have a more effective case against the property owner, and the victim must acquire medical records that show their injuries and how their injuries affect their life. Some cases may require the victim’s doctor to testify to present detailed information about the injuries and whether these injuries will affect their ability to support themselves financially going forward. When the victim suffered a permanent loss, they could be entitled to a more profound monetary award, but the circumstances of their injuries will play a role in determining what they receive.

Did the Property Owner File an Insurance Claim?

After an accident on the property, the property owner can file a claim through their property insurance carrier, since that company provides coverage for liabilities. For example, if the victim sustained an injury at a residential property, the owner files a claim through the homeowner’s insurance to pay for the victim’s medical costs. Retail store owners can file a claim through their general liability or premises liability coverage to provide a settlement for the victim. Reviewing their options shows the property owner whether they have adequate coverage for the victim’s injuries. If they do not have adequate insurance, the property owner may face a legal claim.

Do the Victim’s Medical Costs Exceed the Maximum Coverage Level?

The victim’s medical costs may exceed the maximum coverage level of the property owner’s insurance policy. When this happens, there are only two possibilities, either the property owner can agree to pay the outstanding balance and cover the victim’s injuries because they are liable, or the victim can file a legal claim to collect the remaining funds. However, the medical treatment must be necessary, and it cannot include cosmetic or elective procedures. The victim must provide estimates from their doctor to show the projected cost of their ongoing medical expenses.

Did the Victim Have the Legal Right to Enter the Property?

Determining if the victim had the legal right to enter the property establishes the viability of a victim's claim. If they were not invited into the property or the property wasn’t accessible to the public, the victim may be guilty of trespassing. If the victim broke the law in order to enter the exterior or interior of the property, their claim could be dismissed. Remember, utility workers are allowed to enter the property to read meters and complete utility line maintenance.

Service providers that were hired by the property owner have the right to enter areas of the property to complete their services. If they are injured inside or anywhere on the property, the property owner is liable. Anyone who committed a crime in order to get into the property cannot file a claim for compensation.

What Does the Victim Need to Prove in a Legal Claim?

When preparing for a legal claim, the victim must acquire medical records, invoices for their medical costs, and details about their lost wages. Eyewitnesses that saw the accident happen can substantiate the victim’s claim, too. Any video footage captured by the accident shows evidence of how the accident happened and why the property owner is liable. However, the type of accident case they have may define what evidence is required for the personal injury case. An attorney guides victim when it is time to start a legal claim.

Victims of premises liabilities must present evidence of their injuries that shows the defendant caused their injuries. After a visitor becomes injured, the property owner must start an insurance claim to provide compensation for the victim’s losses. The financial losses include medical expenses and lost wages primarily.

When starting a premises liability claim, the victim must prove that the property owner was aware of the hazard and failed to correct it. They must also prove that the victim had the legal right to enter the property via invitation or because the property is publicly accessible. Reviewing guidelines for filing premises liability claims helps victims determine if they have a viable case.