The owner or the manager of a property has an obligation to keep their property in a manner that it is safe for visitors. This obligation holds them responsible in most cases if someone is hurt while on that property. However, there are levels of obligation as well as different types of responsibility attached to premises liability claims.
The first thing that needs to be understood is what causes of injuries are covered under this type of accident. The next thing that must be addressed is whether or not the owner or manager had knowledge of the issue prior to the event. The last thing that must be addressed is the category of visitor that the injured party falls under according to the law.
Premises injuries can include any of the following types of events that take place on another person’s property:
• Slip and Fall
• Falling Objects
• Dangerous Stairs/Stairwells
• Animal Attacks
• Unsafe Walkways
• Criminal Acts Due To Unsafe Conditions
A property owner has an obligation to keep their walkways safe and clear for everyone. This includes keeping them free of clutter or debris, making sure that holes or cracks are cared for, maintaining walk areas based on weather conditions such as rain or ice, and securing rugs or mats so they do not move when stepped on.
Stairways need to be free from debris, the steps should have non-skid treatments such as rubber strips, and handrails must be in place and secure. Stairwells should be lit for optimal security and safety.
Businesses that use shelving or stack items above waist height need to make sure that their product is secure and will not fall under normal use circumstances. Falling objects from poorly stacked shelves can cause a variety of accidents.
Pets need to be secured in such a fashion that they cannot attack or cause harm. Dog attacks are some of the most common premises liability claims that are made. However, it should be understood that dogs are not the only pets that can cause harm.
Criminal acts that are a result of an unsafe premise can also be a liability for the property owner. Business owners, for example, that have a poorly lit parking area and have hedges surrounding the parking area have created a perfect place for a crime to take place. If a person, for example, is robbed in the parking area, the business owner could be held responsible for creating a condition that allowed the crime to happen.
This is only a general look at what types of events could result in a personal injury on another person’s property. These are not the only types of events that could lead to injury. If you have been injured while on someone else’s property, you should speak to a Shreveport personal injury lawyer about the events that led up to your injury.
One of the most important aspects of a premises injury case is being able to prove that the owner or manager had a working knowledge of the problem. Knowing that there is a potential for harm and not doing anything about it is negligence.
For example: A property owner knows that the railing on the staircase is loose but does nothing to repair it. A person walking the stairs holds onto the railing, it comes loose and the person falls. This is a sign of negligence.
A different scenario may be similar to this: A person walking down a dark set of stairs trips and falls. The light is burnt out. The manager had turned the light on earlier and it worked, but didn’t know that the bulb went out. Proving negligence in this type of situation can be a little harder. However, your Shreveport personal injury attorney can examine the information and determine if a case exists.
You should never assume that the property owner is protected from liability because they placed a warning sign. The business owner is not relieved of responsibility for putting up a sign warning of danger, they must do something about that danger to eliminate it. A wet floor sign is, in actuality, just an acknowledgment by the owner that they know there is a danger. Drying the floor is what is necessary to protect the guests.
The amount of responsibility that a property owner has to a person is also based on what type of guest they are of the property. There are three classifications for guests:
An invitee is someone who comes onto a property to conduct business. This would include any retail shopper, a diner in a restaurant, or even a patient in a hospital or medical office. This also includes people visiting amusement parks, recreation centers and similar places of entertainment.
Businesses have the most responsibility for these types of people because they openly encourage these people to come to their property to conduct business.
Licensees are people that go to a property for non-commercial purposes. This would include going to someone’s house for a BBQ or pool party or any type of visitation situation. Most animal attacks are covered under these types of situations. Property owners have a duty of care to invited guests, but it is not as strong as those in a commercial situation.
Trespassers are anyone who enters a property without invitation. Property owners have the lowest care of duty to this type of person. Unless the trespasser is a small child who does not have the workable knowledge that they entered an area they should not have gone into, a trespasser is generally “on their own” if they get hurt while breaking the law.
As you can see, premises injuries can quickly become complicated. A person who is injured is simply not interested in all of these details and requirements, they simply want their medical bills paid and their losses covered.
Working with a specialized personal injury lawyer will alleviate all of the frustration surrounding one of these types of injury claims and allow you to concentrate on what is most important – your recovery.
Contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Flint, Crawford & Cogburn today. We offer home or hospital visits for your convenience.
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