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What is a premises liability lawyer?

Wondering what a premises liability lawyer is? We explain everything you need to know from what a premises liability lawyer does to how they can help.

evident Editorial Team
November 28, 2023
scaffold, roof, premises liability

Premises liability is a legal concept that often plays a crucial role in personal injury cases, where the injury has occurred on someone's property. Understanding premises liability and the need for a premises liability lawyer is essential for both the injured party and property owners.

In this article, we'll get into what premises liability entails, the responsibilities of property owners, and how a premises liability lawyer can assist victims in a personal injury claim for their injuries.

Whether you are a property owner or someone who has suffered an injury on someone else's property, this guide will provide you with insights on premises liability and the legal avenues available.

Key Takeaways

What Does Premises Liability Mean?

Premises liability is a legal term that refers to a property owner's responsibility to keep their premises safe for visitors. Essentially, if someone gets injured on a property due to hazardous conditions (suffers a premises liability accident) the property owner could be held liable for the damages.

For instance, if a visitor slips on a wet floor at a store and gets injured, the store owner may be held responsible if they failed to address the hazard promptly.

However, it's important to note that premises liability is not absolute. The extent of the property owner's liability can vary based on the victim's status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser and the laws in the particular state.

Additionally, premises liability injuries go beyond slip and fall cases. Premises liability encompasses various scenarios where a property may have unsafe conditions, such as inadequate security or faulty maintenance.

The Legal Framework for Premises Liability

Premises liability laws differ from state to state. However, there are some common elements. Generally, the law mandates property owners to maintain safe conditions on their property.

One noteworthy example is New York premises liability law, which states that property owners must keep sidewalks abutting their property in a reasonably safe condition. Each state will have different laws and nuances, making legal representation critical.

Liability will often depend on what type of visitor to the property was injured. States often classify visitors into three categories:

  1. Invitees
  2. Licensees
  3. Trespassers

Property owners are expected to provide each category of visitor with a different level of care. Property owners typically owe the highest duty of care to invitees, followed by licensees and trespassers to which property owners owe very little duty of care.

Duties of Property Owners

Private property owners have several responsibilities when it comes to ensuring the safety of their premises. These include:

  • Regular Maintenance: Regular inspection and timely property repair to avoid potential hazards.
  • Warning of Danger: Providing adequate warnings of non-obvious dangerous conditions which the owner is aware of.
  • Safety Measures: Implementing safety measures like proper lighting and security systems.

Failure to take the above steps may render the property owner liable to injured victims. However, if a property owner can prove they took all reasonable steps to maintain the property, they may be able to avoid liability for any accidents.

What Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Do?

hammer, books, law

Premises liability lawyers specialize in representing clients who have been injured on someone else's property due to the negligence or wrongdoing of the property owner.

These attorneys are skilled in understanding the nuances of premises liability law and can be crucial in helping victims navigate the legal system.

The roles and responsibilities of premises liability lawyers include the following:

  • Case Evaluation: Analyze the circumstances of the accident to determine if the victim has a valid premises liability case.
  • Gathering Evidence: Collect photographs, videos, and witness statements to support the client's claim.
  • Negotiation: Negotiate with the property owner's insurance company for a fair settlement.
  • Legal Representation: Represent the client in a premises liability lawsuit if a settlement cannot be reached.

Additionally, premises liability lawyers can guide clients through the complexities of state laws, as some states may have specific statutes affecting the liability and compensation in these cases.

When Should You Consult a Premises Liability Lawyer?

It's important to consult a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible after an accident on someone else's property. Here are scenarios where legal consultation is particularly essential:

  1. Severe Injuries: If you have sustained severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment.
  2. Unclear Liability: When it's not clear who is responsible for the accident or if multiple parties could be liable.
  3. Insurance Company Disputes: If the property owner's insurance company denies your claim or offers an insufficient settlement.

Legal advice can be invaluable in understanding your rights and the options available. A lawyer can also help you estimate the worth of your personal injury claim, considering factors such as medical expenses, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering.

Furthermore, premises liability attorneys are often well-versed in strategies employed by insurance companies to minimize payouts and can thus effectively advocate on your behalf.

How Much Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Cost?

Hiring a premises liability lawyer can be crucial to the success of your case. However, the cost can vary based on several factors.

If you're an injured victim, your premises liability lawyer will likely charge a contingency fee. This means the lawyer takes a percentage of the settlement or court award which typically ranges from 25% to 40%. If you don't win the case, you don't pay legal fees but may still be responsible for court costs or other expenses.

If you are a property owner, your lawyer's fee structure can vary, and include:

  1. Hourly Rates: The lawyer charges a fixed hourly rate for their services. This is less common in premises liability cases.
  2. Flat Fees: One fee charged for specific services or aspects of the case.
  3. Retainer Fees: An upfront fee, with the lawyer drawing from this amount as the case proceeds.

On average, expect to spend several thousand dollars on legal fees, but this can vary widely based on the complexity of your case.

What are Common Damages from Premises Liability Cases?

If you're injured on someone else's property, you may be eligible for compensation for various damages. These include:

  • Medical Expenses: Cost of hospital stays, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, and any future medical costs related to the injury.
  • Lost Wages: Compensation for time off work, including loss of earning capacity if you cannot return to your previous employment due to the injury.
  • Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain and emotional distress.
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life: Compensation for inability to enjoy day-to-day pursuits like hobbies and exercise.

Premises liability attorneys can help maximize compensation for injured parties in several ways:

  • Negotiation Skills: Experienced attorneys can negotiate with insurance companies effectively.
  • Understanding of Legal Processes: Knowledge of legal procedures ensures that all paperwork is filed correctly and on time.
  • Expertise in Assessing Damages: An attorney can help accurately estimate a claim's value.

Knowing the costs involved and the potential compensation, you can decide whether pursuing a premises liability claim is the right course of action.

Most Common Premises Liability Claims

Premises liability encompasses a wide range of incidents where an individual may get injured on someone else's property. Some of the most common premises liability claims include:

  1. Slip and Fall Accidents: This occurs when someone slips, trips, or falls due to a hazardous condition on the property, such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or poor lighting.
  2. Swimming Pool Accidents: These involve injuries or drownings in swimming pools due to a lack of proper safety measures, inadequate fencing, or failure to maintain the pool.
  3. Inadequate Maintenance of the Property: This includes accidents caused by the property owner's failure to repair or maintain the property, leading to broken stairs, leaking pipes, or crumbling walls.
  4. Dog Bites and Animal Attacks: Property owners can be held liable if their pet attacks someone on their property.
  5. Negligent Security Leading to Injuries or Assault: When inadequate security on a property results in a visitor being assaulted or injured, the property owner may be held responsible.

In-depth Look at Specific Claims

Slip and Fall Cases

banana peel, to slip, danger

Slip and fall cases are among the most prevalent premises liability claims. Common causes include spilled liquids, cracked sidewalks, and icy walkways. Injuries can range from minor bruises to severe fractures and head injuries. A premises liability lawyer can help victims who have suffered injuries gather evidence, establish negligence on the property owner's part, and pursue compensation.

Swimming Pool Accidents

pool, tile, swimming

Swimming pool accidents are particularly concerning as they can often be fatal, especially for children. Factors leading to these accidents include lack of supervision, broken gates, and failure to comply with safety regulations. Property owners may be liable for any injuries or fatalities when they fail to secure or maintain a pool properly.

How to File a Premises Liability Claim

When you've been injured on someone else's property, it's important to know the steps for filing a premises liability claim:

  • Report the Accident: Notify the property owner of the incident. If it's a business, ensure an accident report is filed.
  • Document the Scene: Take photographs, collect witness information, and note the conditions that contributed to the accident.
  • Seek Medical Attention: Obtain medical treatment and keep records of your injuries and treatment.
  • Consult an Attorney: Contact a premises liability lawyer to discuss your case and understand your options.
  • File the Claim: Your attorney will guide you through filing the claim against the property owner or their insurance company.

These steps can strengthen your premises liability case and help you seek the compensation you deserve.

What to Look for in a Premises Liability Lawyer

Selecting the right lawyer is crucial when you decide to pursue a premises liability case. Consider the following factors:

  • Experience in Premises Liability Cases: Ensure the lawyer has a proven track record in handling premises liability cases like yours.
  • Reputation and Client Testimonials: Review online reviews and testimonials from previous clients to gauge the lawyer's reliability and effectiveness.
  • Communication and Accessibility: Choose a communicative lawyer who can answer your questions and keep you informed.

You also want to make sure that you hire a premises liability lawyer with a license to practice in the state where the accident occurred. For example, you'll want to hire a New York premises liability lawyer if the accident happened in New York.

Consultation and Process for Hiring a Premises Liability Attorney

When hiring an attorney, you'll go through the following steps:

  • Set up a Consultation: Contact the lawyer to schedule a consultation. Many lawyers offer free initial consultations.
  • What to Expect in the Initial Consultation: Be prepared to discuss the details of your case. The lawyer will assess your case and discuss possible strategies.
  • Hiring Process: If you decide to hire a lawyer, you must sign a representation agreement outlining the terms and conditions of their service.

Taking the time to carefully choose the right premises liability lawyer can significantly impact the outcome of your case.

Summing It Up

Recognizing that premises liability cases can be complex and require a thorough understanding of legal principles and state-specific laws is vital. Consulting a premises liability lawyer can be invaluable in navigating these complexities and seeking the compensation you deserve.

Remember, ensuring safety on a property is not just a legal obligation but a moral one. For property owners, implementing safety measures can prevent accidents and save lives. Knowing your rights and legal options is the first step toward justice for victims of premises liability accidents.

If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else's property due to the property owner's negligence, don't hesitate to reach out to a skilled premises liability lawyer to discuss your case and explore the best course of action.

Stay informed, stay safe, and don't be afraid to seek the legal help you need.