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Premises Liability

When you are injured on someone else's property, the property owner, manager, or similar entity may be liable for your injuries. Premises liability cases are notoriously difficult to litigate, and often require combing through complicated leases, determining which parties actually own the property, and negotiations with multiple insurance provider. Even if you think you don't have a case, or are concerned that your claim is of relatively low value, you need to consult a skilled premises liability attorney before making any final decisions.

Understanding Premises Liability

Businesses that open their premises to consumers have a general duty to maintain a reasonably safe space. That duty varies depending on the type of business, your relationship with the business, the causes of your injuries, and other factors. For example, an apartment complex that markets itself as the safest complex in the area has a higher duty to its residents than an apartment complex that has a long history of crime that it discloses to each new tenant.  

To win a premises liability claim, you must show that the responsible party behaved in a negligent or reckless way, breached your contract, or violated some other obligation it had to you. Examples of such include:

Cases That May Give Rise to Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability cases come in many varieties. You don’t have to prove a specific type of injury—just that you were, in fact, injured. Some examples include:

What About the Victim and Third Parties?

The fact that you were injured on someone else’s property does not, in and of itself, mean you have a premises liability lawsuit or that the property owner or manager is liable. The other side may try to prove that you created the danger yourself, or behaved in a reckless fashion. For example, if you are injured at a water park where you refused to follow directions, you might not have a case. Or if you invited a dangerous person into your apartment, you might not only be liable for your own injuries, but any injuries that person caused to your property or to another person

Likewise, there may be other third parties who are liable for your injuries—either alongside the premises owner or instead of that person. For example, if you are injured by a dangerous vehicle at a water park or recreational facility, the recreational facility might not be liable if they can prove they took reasonable precautions. Premises liability lawsuits often have many layers, and they require dedicated investigation. This is why it’s so important to hire a lawyer who has extensive experience managing these cases.

How Much Can You Recover?

A premises liability case, like all lawsuits, is designed to recover damages. Damages are the monetary value the court assigns to any injuries you sustained. If you do not have any demonstrable injuries, then you do not have any damages and will not be able to win. For example, if someone broke into your home but did not injure you, did not take anything, did not come back, and did not cause you any psychological harm, it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully sue.

On the other hand, damages are often more than what you initially think they might be, and are not limited to actual financial expenses. Some of what you may be able to recover with a premises liability suit includes:

Many premises liability cases settle before heading to trial. To receive a favorable settlement, you will need a strong case, a lawyer who is a skilled negotiator, and a reasonable offer.

Why You Need a Lawyer

Most premises liability cases are actually against the insurance companies that insure the liable property. They will be armed with a skilled lawyer and plenty of experience; going against an insurance company on your own is foolish, and almost certainly will lower the value of your winnings—assuming you are even able to win anything at all.

The other side will take your case more seriously, and may offer a better initial settlement package, if you have a skilled lawyer on your side. Premises liability cases often hinge on expert witness testimony and esoteric legal principles; you may not have the legal familiarity necessary to master either. Moreover, even a single missed filing deadline could cost you your case. Don’t gamble with your future.





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