Do I Have a Premises Liability Case?
When you enter someone else’s property, you have the reasonable expectation of not being injured. Unfortunately, accidents happen, and you could be seriously hurt thanks to an unknown hazard or some other safety issue. If you are injured, a premises liability claim may be the best way for you to hold that property owner or manager liable for your losses.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a type of personal injury case that refers to accidents or injuries occurring on someone else’s property, usually due to a security issue or hazardous condition. The most common type of premises liability claim is a slip and fall accident. Other common circumstances involving these cases include:
- Swimming pool accidents
- Hotel and casino injuries
- Amusement park accidents
- Dog bites
- Escalator and elevator accidents
- Spills, water leaks, and flooding
- Toxic fume and chemical exposure
- Injury or assault due to inadequate security
- Accidents caused by inadequate maintenance
- Defective conditions on the premises leading to accidents
The Property’s Owner’s Duty of Care
Most personal injury cases are based upon negligence, and this rule also applies to a premises liability claim. To win one of these cases, you must be able to prove not only that the person you are suing either owned or controlled the property, but that they also were negligent in their responsibilities. In other words, the owner of the property neglected to exercise reasonable care with respect to their property.
Just because you are injured on someone else’s property does not necessarily mean that negligence was involved. Likewise, the presence of an unsafe condition on a property may not translate to negligence. You must be able to show that the owner of the property either knew or should have been aware of the unsafe condition and either neglected to remedy the situation or properly warn guests about the hazard.
Most states, including Alabama, differentiate between the duty of care owed to distinct types of visitors on a property. The three categories of a property’s visitors are invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
- An invitee has the property owner’s implied or express permission to be on the premises. These include people such as relatives, friends, and neighbors, and are the class of visitor to which the property owner owes the highest duty of care.
- A licensee is someone who comes onto the property with permission but is also there for their own purposes. These may include a salesperson or someone who enters a mall to go shopping. The duty of care is less than that of an invitee, but the property owner must still ensure a reasonably safe and secure premises.
- A trespasser has no legal right to be on the property and will have no rights to recover if they are injured. The exception to this rule is if the trespasser is a child, who is injured by an “attractive nuisance” such as a swimming pool. Since this is a foreseeable occurrence, the property owner could be held liable for failing to prevent an accident.
Alabama Laws Relating to Shared Fault
When you file any sort of personal injury claim in Alabama, the road ahead may not be as simple as you expect. Even in cases where negligence is clear, the defendant or their insurance company is likely to present a twisted set of events that places some or all of the blame in your corner. The reason for this is Alabama’s harsh “contributory negligence” rule.
Specifically, if the courts determine that you were partially responsible (even 1 percent) for the accident, you will not be able to recover any damages for your loss. For this reason alone, it is vital that you speak with an experienced Alabama accident attorney who understands what it takes to safeguard your rights.
Speak with a Qualified Alabama Premises Liability Attorney
If you or someone you care about has been seriously injured on someone else’s property, you should not have to suffer the consequences and absorb the financial losses. In addition to medical care, you may be faced with lost wages, permanent impairment, and even pain and suffering. A negligent property owner or manager should be held responsible for your damages through a personal injury case.
A premises liability claim can be complex because there may be more than one defendant as well as the need for a thorough investigation. At Smith & McGhee, PC, our experienced Alabama premises liability attorneys will do what is necessary to fight for the maximum compensation possible in your case and protect your rights. Contact our Dothan office now at (334) 702-1744 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.