What is Premises Liability? How Do I Prove My Case?
- What does Premises Liability Mean?
- When a Property Owners’ Negligence Causes Injury
- Proving a Premises Liability Claim
- What Do I Do if Hurt on Someone’s Property?
- What are Damages in a Premises Liability Law Suit?
- How Do I Start a Case?
What Does Premises Liability Mean?
In short, premises liability means and refers to owners, or occupiers, of a property are responsible for the well-being of individuals that are on their property. If you’ve been injured due to an Arizona property owner’s carelessness, you might have grounds to file a premises liability civil law suit against the property owner for negligence.
Whether you slipped and fell on a wet supermarket floor, tripped on a broken sidewalk owned by a business or were hurt on a dangerous amusement park ride, the owner or manager of the property may be responsible for your injuries. You may also be able to recover compensation for your injuries if you were hurt due to someone else’s intentional act. For example, you may be able to sue if you were hurt in a robbery, sexual assault or battery in a poorly lit parking garage or poorly secured nightclub lot.
The costs of a property owner’s carelessness can be high. Victims may need significant medical care and ongoing treatment. They may face both physical and psychological harm as a result of the injury. Victims may be forced to spend a significant amount of time away from work, causing them to lose out on wages and salaries. Depending on your job and the type of injury you suffered, you may not be able to go back to your previous employment. This comes in addition to your pain and suffering and other costs associated with a severe injury.
Property owners need to be held accountable if their negligence leads to injuries to their customers and visitors. If you have been injured due to dangerous conditions on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit to seek the compensation you deserve.
When Property Owners’ Negligence Causes Injury
Under Arizona state law, property owners must keep their premises safe, especially if they invite others on to their grounds for commercial purposes. People should not be hurt due to poor conditions and maintenance when they go to shop or out for an evening’s entertainment.
There are a number of hazardous conditions that can cause serious injuries:
- Dangerous conditions
- Poor maintenance
- Poorly handled weather concerns
- Improper or broken lighting
- Inadequate security
- Slip-and-fall incidents
Property owners have a duty of care to others. If they violate this duty of care, they are negligent. Negligent property owners can be held responsible for injuries that invitees and licensees experience on their grounds. An invitee was invited to come to the property for business or commercial reasons, while a licensee is someone invited for private, social reasons. However, people who go to a public business to meet with their friends, attend a wedding or enjoy a meal are still invitees to the property owner.
Premises liability lawsuits can hold owners accountable for failing to repair dangerous conditions or warn others about their presence. While it is easy to understand how a broken sidewalk or poor lighting could lead to serious injuries, “dangerous conditions” can embrace a broad array of problems. Some of these examples include:
- Dog bites or other dangerous animals
- Falling branches or dead trees
- Loose roof shingles or parts
- Parking lot potholes
- Wet, slick surfaces inside or outside
- Broken, shaky or missing railings
- Open, unmarked ditches and wells
- Splintered, unsteady stairs and ladders
- Dangerous amusement park rides
- Unguarded swimming pools
- Fire hazards
- Open or leaking toxic gases or chemicals
- Floods and leaks
- Poorly maintained escalators and elevators
If you have suffered an injury caused by any of these conditions, contact an Arizona premises liability lawyer at Hutzler Law. We can go over your case and help to determine who is responsible for your damages.
Proving a Premises Liability Claim
You may have been hurt because the owner of a property failed to care for it. However, in order to recover for your damages, you will need to prove it in court. There are a few things that you will need to show to win your premises liability case.
Key points include the following:
- Proving that the owner or manager was responsible for caring for the grounds where you were injured
- Showing that the owner failed to make sure the area was safe
- Proving that the owner knew about the hazard
- Showing that the owner was responsible to ensure you were safe there
- Proving that your injuries were directly caused by the property owner’s negligence
Your Hutzler Law attorney can help you to assemble the evidence you need to succeed in your premises liability claim. After all, the property owner and their insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying out for your injuries. They may try to claim that the owner was not responsible for your injuries.
They might also try to claim that they had no knowledge of the situation or that your injuries were someone else’s fault. For example, Wal-Mart and other companies have been sued for poorly secured parking lots. Victims have experienced sexual assaults or robberies in these places where the public is supposed to be safe.
Through aggressive investigation, it was found that Wal-Mart in one location frequently called the police due to ongoing emergencies. Internal reports were written about the crimes, but no steps were taken to remedy problems. This led to Wal-Mart being successfully sued for millions of dollars.
Some of the evidence that you might use in your premises liability case includes:
- Medical reports
- Psychological reports
- Financial documents
- Witness testimony
- Photographs of the property
- Photographs of your injuries
- Evidence of similar incidents
- Police reports
What Should You Do If You Are Hurt On Someone Else’s Property?
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, it is important to protect yourself. You may have been assaulted due to poor security, or you may be injured due to badly maintained equipment.
Some premises liability cases in major stores include merchandise falling from shelves or spills not being cleaned up as they should. Both Costco and Sam’s Club have experienced these types of cases.
One of the most common types of premises liability cases is a slip-and-fall accident. While snow and ice may be rare in Arizona, slippery floors are not. Companies may also leave cords laying around or fail to keep their staircases in good condition.
Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, facial damage, scarring, back pain or even paralysis. If you have fallen down on someone else’s property due to its condition, make sure to take the right steps to protect your rights.
- Don’t give a statement right away to the owner’s insurance agent or company. If you say anything that minimizes your claim, they could later try to use it against you in court or claim that you were to blame for the fall.
- Don’t just brush it off. Go to the doctor or the hospital to get checked out after a slip and fall. If your injuries only appear later, the insurance companies may try to say that something else caused them.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. If your condition worsens, you’ll need to show that you followed medical advice to improve your health. If you avoid a doctor’s advice, the other side may accuse you of not being really hurt.
- Get photos as quickly as you can. Everyone has a phone on hand. Snap photos and videos of the scene at the time of the accident to show the cause of your injury.
- Keep a thorough log book of your experiences after the fall. This will help to create a contemporaneous record.
- Talk to any witnesses that you see. They may be able to provide a statement later on if you need it.
- If you were the victim of a crime, call the police. Report the crime and follow up with the criminal process even as you pursue the property owners for their poor security.
- Call a premises liability lawyer at Hutzler Law. You don’t have to deal with the insurance companies alone. Fight back with experienced lawyers on your side.
Don’t wait too long to follow up on your injuries. In most cases, you have two years after the initial injury to file a claim within the Arizona statute of limitations.
Damages in a Premises Liability Case
In Arizona, there is no upper limit on the amount that you can recover in a premises liability case. The amount of the verdict or settlement in your case is determined by the extent of the injuries that you can prove. You do not have to show that you suffered a major injury in order to pursue your case.
Comparative fault is considered in Arizona premises liability cases. This means that judges and juries can take into account if your actions contributed to the injury in any way, which can lessen the amount of the settlement that you receive.
The strength of your evidence and the experience of your attorney can make a major difference in the outcome of your premises liability claim. These types of personal injuries can lead to serious damages, including:
- Lost wages
- Medical bills
- Ongoing disability
- Care and rehabilitation services
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional harm
- Employment damages and retraining
Damages can take into account harms you have already suffered as well as costs going forward. When you will continue to need care because of your injuries, these forward-looking damages can be some of the most important.
Depending on your insurance situation, you may wind up owing tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical care. This can put pressure on you to accept the first settlement proposal from the property owner’s insurance company. The settlement amount may exceed your current medical bills, but these costs can continue to rack up.
Pain and suffering come with an intangible cost that can far exceed the medical costs. You may need to leave a job with a strong record of achievement, or your injuries may inhibit your intimate relationships. You may have a lower income for years to come due to your injuries and may require ongoing treatment for pain. You may need retraining to take a new job due to your disability.
It is important to consider all of your damages when starting a personal injury claim. The experienced attorneys at Hutzler Law will advise you on any settlement proposal and help you avoid being pressured into accepting a bad deal for you and your family.
Contact an Arizona Premises Liability Lawyer to Start Your Case
If you have been harmed because of a negligent property owner in Arizona, contact the skilled personal injury lawyers at Hutzler Law. Our team of attorneys have recovered millions of dollars for accident victims like you.