Premises Liability FAQs
Premises liability laws hold companies, homeowners, and property owners legally accountable if personal injury or damages occur on their premises.
Most accidents involving premises liability resulted from violating a duty of care to protect all tenants, visitors, and invitees when the property owner knew or should have known of the hazardous condition. Their negligent actions usually result in a premises liability claim resolved through a negotiated settlement.
Below are some of the commonly asked premises liability FAQs (frequently asked questions) involving those harmed through another’s negligent actions, put together by the lawyers at the law firm of Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC. Contact us for a free consultation to get answers to your questions.
- What is Premises Liability?
- What is Premises Liability Coverage?
- What are the Elements of Premises Liability?
- How are Facility Issues and Premises Liability Different?
- What Are the Odds of Winning a Premises Liability Case with a Jury?
- What Is the Minimum Amount to Collect for a Premises Liability Injury?/
- What Accountability Does a Property Owner Have for Criminal Conduct on Its Premises?
- Who Should a Premises Liability Case Be Made Against in a Lawsuit?
- How Much Is a Premises Liability Lawsuit Worth?
- What Does a Premises Liability Attorney Do?
- How Do I Make a Store Responsible If I Was Injured There?
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability law involves legal concepts where someone suffered an injury or property damage caused by another's negligent actions on someone else’s property. The case could involve properties that were in defective or unsafe conditions.
Common examples of these types of claims involve slip and fall accidents at the grocery store, suffering injuries tripping on accumulated ice or snow outside a big-box store, drowning in swimming pools, or being physically attacked at an apartment complex due to inadequate security.
Typically, invitees (guests, tenants, occupiers) and licensees (individuals and companies with official permission to be on the property) file claims under premises liability law when injured on someone else’s property. Typically, most trespassers, except young children, cannot file a premises liability claim if they were on the property without permission.
What is Premises Liability Coverage?
Every size business must carry premises liability insurance coverage whether they own the building or are just renting/leasing. Premises liability coverage protects the business and anyone injured on the property like a workspace, studio, workshop, office, parking lot, apartment complex, or store.
The insurance covers accidents occurring on the property like slipping and falling, dog bites, violent attacks, drowning, exposure to toxic chemicals/materials, and other personal injuries.
A premises liability claim is different from a general liability claim that provides coverage for damaging another person’s property, accidental copyright infringement, or third-party bodily injury occurring in the workplace.
What are the Elements of Premises Liability?
The elements of successfully resolving a premises liability case are like any other personal injury claim or lawsuit where the plaintiff must show that the defendant’s negligence resulted in injuries, damages, or wrongful death.
In these culpability cases, plaintiffs must prove:
- The defendant was in charge of the property as a land owner, property owner, manager, occupier, or tenant,
- The defendant’s negligence caused damages, injuries, or wrongful death,
- The plaintiffs suffered an injury, damages, or wrongful death,
- The defendant’s negligence or intentional act directly caused the victim’s damages.
The elements above could prove that the individual or business in charge of the property failed to provide a reasonably safe environment and did not fix, replace, or warn every visitor and invitee of the dangers that should have been reasonably expected to cause harm.
How are Facility Issues and Premises Liability Different?
Inadequate facility management could cause accidents and other events leading to severe injuries and death. Many property managers and tenants are unaware that the law could hold them financially accountable for any injury or death, even if they were not directly responsible.
The facility management company might have failed to perform proper background checks when leasing the property to other people/businesses, hiring security officers, or employing workers with a violent criminal record.
Land and property owners that lease the property to another entity or individual could also be held liable for injuries due to their negligence, such as a slip and fall accident. A possible problem where a property owner might be liable includes failing to fix any existing unsafe condition before leasing the premises to another.
What Are the Odds of Winning a Premises Liability Case with a Jury?
Statistics show that over 95% of all premises liability lawsuits are resolved through pre-trial negotiated settlements, where the plaintiffs never present evidence in front of a judge and jury. Some studies show jurors find for the plaintiffs (victims) in nearly 46% of all premises liability cases.
However, even if the plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers win the case, the trial judge may alter the amount of compensation the victim receives compared to what the jury awarded.
The uncertainty of how the case will be resolved typically leads both the plaintiff and the defendant (operator/owner) to settle to minimize any unwanted financial consequence at the end of the trial.
People often want to settle the case due to rising medical expenses, lost wages, and the financial burden of paying bills without a weekly income. Trial cases begin many months after a comprehensive investigation is completed to determine what happened and drags on until all the evidence can be presented before the jurors’ verdict.
What Is the Minimum Amount to Collect for a Premises Liability Injury?
Accurately valuing the worth of a premises liability injury case can be complicated. If the defendants are 100% at fault for causing the accident with injuries, the plaintiff should be compensated for all their damages based on the defendant’s coverage.
If the victim is negotiating a pre-trial settlement, they should consider the extent of their injuries and damages, including:
- Physical injuries, including broken bones, traumatic brain injury, soft tissue damage, and other injuries that could impact their everyday life,
- The need for future medical attention, including surgery, rehabilitation, therapy, and prescription medications,
- Lost past, current, and future earning capacity due to a temporary or permanent disability,
- Non-tangible damages including mental anxiety, emotional distress, pain, and suffering.
Before agreeing to a settlement, the injury victim should consider the limits of their workers’ compensation benefits, if injured at their workplace, and attorney fees. Typically, a premises liability attorney representing the plaintiff will require 33.33% (one-third) of the agreed settlement amount.
What Accountability Does a Property Owner Have for Criminal Conduct on Its Premises?
Under premises liability laws, any property owner, business owner, or management might be held liable for injuries on the property, for slip and fall accidents to criminal activity.
However, the victim (plaintiff) must establish that the business owner, property owner, or management’s negligence led to the injury victim’s damages by proving three elements, including:
- The property owners, business owners, or others had a duty of care to provide a safe environment for everyone on the property,
- Those in control of the property breached their duty by omission or action,
- Their breach in their duty to provide safe premises resulted in damages.
Typically, anyone hurt by an assault, attack, rape, theft, or other criminal action by third parties on another individual or company’s property might sue someone or a business through a third-party lawsuit.
While those in charge might not have been able to foresee any problems, they failed to prevent a dangerous condition that led to injuries or death on the property.
Violent attacks are commonplace in many apartment complexes when someone uses or sells illegal drugs on the property. The landlord might face civil action if they failed to prevent a threat to public safety due to illegal activity on the property.
Who Should a Premises Liability Case Be Made Against in a Lawsuit?
Filing a premises liability lawsuit can hold the property owner or management legally responsible for all damages, injuries, and wrongful deaths on their property. By law, property owners and management companies occupying the premises must make a reasonable effort to ensure everyone’s safety by barricading hazardous areas and fixing any defect that could lead to an accident.
Failing to maintain a safe property for visitors, employees, and invitees might result in a legal property issue if hazardous conditions could be caused by negligence.
Typical problems involved in premises liability lawsuits include:
- Inadequate apartment complex security
- Big-box store injury
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Hazardous properties
- Office building injuries
- Slip and fall events
- Swimming pool drowning and injuries
- Inadequate or negligent security
- Uninvited children on the property
- Restaurant injuries
- Shopping mall injuries
In many cases, a landlord does not control the property but signs a lease with a management company that operates a commercial business, retail outlet, or apartment complex.
There might be exceptions, but typically the landlord is not responsible for preventing another's injuries on the property unless there is a dangerous or concealed condition that existed when the tenant took possession of the property.
How Much Is a Premises Liability Lawsuit Worth?
A premises liability lawsuit’s value depends on the case’s unique circumstances that led to the accident, exposure, or injury. Typically, liability cases involve the property owner, management company, or tenant’s negligence leading to an accident.
Most premises liability claims are complicated and require investigating what happened to determine who is at fault for causing damages. A lawyer specializing in this area of personal injury cases might identify multiple parties at fault for the same accident.
Potential premises liability claim defendants might include the property owner, manager, occupier, maintenance crews, appliance suppliers, construction companies, and hired security.
The injured party’s personal injury lawyers can use case estimating software to calculate the claim’s value to ensure their clients receive total economic and non-economic damages.
These damages might include:
- Hospitalization costs
- Medical expenses
- Cost of rehabilitation, therapy, and future surgeries when necessary
- Lost wages from time away from work
- Future lost earning capacity
- Funeral and burial costs in wrongful death lawsuits
- Accident-related incidental losses, including hiring a housekeeper or nanny to perform physical activity the victim can no longer perform due to their injuries
- Permanent or long-term disability
- Non-economic damages including:
- Mental anguish
- Emotional distress
- Loss of consortium and companionship
- Pain and suffering
What Does a Premises Liability Attorney Do?
Premises liability lawsuits are highly complex. People will often hire a premises liability attorney to investigate these types of compensation claims while recovering from their injuries.
Working on behalf of the client, the premises liability lawyer can communicate with the defendant’s attorneys and insurance carrier and begin resolving the case.
The premises liability attorney will likely send a demand letter informing the insurance company that the victim is seeking financial compensation to recover damages. Next, the attorney will gather evidence, review medical records, and speak to eyewitnesses to strengthen the claim before negotiating a settlement.
During the negotiations, premises liability lawyers will show the defendant’s attorneys the evidence they might present in front of a judge and jury. In nearly 95% of all cases, both sides will agree to a negotiated settlement to resolve the premises liability case and avoid going to trial due to the uncertain outcome of the jury’s verdict.
How Do I Make a Store Responsible If I Was Injured There?
Every store is legally responsible for ensuring that its property is free from any hazard. If an unsafe condition arises, those in control of the property must post warning signs, barricade the area, and notify everyone of the apparent hazard.
If you or a loved one or family member were injured on someone else’s property, it was likely due to an uncontained present danger, especially in the store’s area open to the public. You might prove that their legal obligation to follow safety protocols was bypassed or never adhered to before the accident occurred.
However, proving negligence can be challenging. Most victims will hire a premises liability lawyer specializing in personal injury cases. They can prove that the injuries result from dangerous materials, crowded aisleways, slippery surfaces, or other problem areas.
Acting as soon as possible is crucial. Some companies attempt to destroy evidence before the plaintiff’s investigative team can remove it to use at trial. In some cases, the owner or store manager will try showing how the injured victim was responsible for their personal harm.
Personal injury lawyers could hold the store and their insurance company legally liable for all damages and possibly find other defendants (third-parties) that had a legal responsibility to ensure everyone’s safety.
Potential multiple defendants could include the management company, business, property owner, equipment suppliers, maintenance crews, and business employees.