Premises Liability

Premises Liability Attorneys-At-Law in White Plains, New York

Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their premises in reasonably safe condition for invited guests. If someone is injured by a hazard that is known to the owner–or should have been known through the exercise of due diligence–the victim can file a premises liability claim under personal injury law. Premises liability is considered a form of negligence. In other words, a negligent property owner is liable for causing an accident the same as a negligent driver.

How Do You Prove a Premises Liability Case?

There are four basic elements to every premises liability case. The legal burden of proof is on the plaintiff–i.e., the accident victim–to prove all four elements, which are:

  • The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or otherwise controlled the property where the accident took place.
  • The defendant was negligent in their use or management of the property.
  • The plaintiff was injured on the defendant’s property.
  • The defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injury.

The most common example of a premises liability claim is a “slip and fall” accident. For instance, Jane is a customer at a local supermarket. While walking down the aisle with her cart, she slips on a puddle of water and falls to the ground. Jane sustains serious injuries in the fall that require hospitalization. If Jane can prove the store’s management was negligent in failing to notice and cleanup the puddle before her fall, she can recover monetary damages from the owner.

It is important to understand that not all hazards give rise to a premises liability claim. The legal test is what would a “reasonable” property owner do under similar circumstances. What is reasonable will vary based on the facts of a particular case. A court will weigh a number of factors, including the likelihood someone could be injured by the hazard in question, what policies the owner had in place to deal with the hazard, and whether or not the hazard was so “open and obvious” that the victim should have been more careful in avoiding it.

Awarding Damages in a Premises Liability Case

If the property owner is found negligent in causing an accident, the victim is entitled to recover their economic and non-economic damages related to their injuries. Economic damages includes out-of-pocket expenses such as medical bills, lost wages due to time missed from work, and even the costs of receiving ongoing physical therapy. Non-economic damages compensates the victim for their pain and suffering arising from the accident.

An experienced premises liability lawyer can review your case and advise you on the total amount of damages you may be in a position to recover. In many cases, a premises liability claim can be settled out-of-court with the property owner. But if a settlement is not feasible, an attorney can represent you in a personal injury lawsuit. Contact Kent Hazzard & Freeman today if you have additional questions or concerns.