Sometimes, you get into an accident on someone else’s property. It may happen at a retail store, restaurant, a friend’s house, in a hotel, or other accommodation services, such as Couchsurfing or Airbnb. They are quite common, and sometimes very minor. But sometimes, they can result in life-altering injuries, causing you or your loved ones bodily and monetary damages.
If you get into such an unfortunate accident, then you can pursue a damages claim against the property owner. When a person gets injured on someone else’s property, the property owner can be held accountable for your injuries by law.
These cases come under the broad category of legal doctrine termed as premises liability. It essentially implies that the injury occurred as a result of a dangerous or unsafe condition unattended by the owner on their property.
Property owners have a legal responsibility to ensure that their property is safe for their visitors. Therefore, you could claim compensation for any damages, pain, or loss due to personal injury on private property.
However, you should keep in mind that the owner is not responsible in all cases of injury that occur on their property, and receiving compensation depends on your particular situation. As per the law, the property owner is only responsible for your injuries in the case that they had a duty of protecting you from danger but failed to fulfill their responsibility, which led to the injury.
Nevertheless, the property owner does owe some level of responsibility towards their visitors and even trespassers.
In the cases, where the injury occurs due to the negligence of the individual, and the conditions of property played no contributing role in it, then your claim may be invalid. However, you should seek legal consultation to assess your situation before reaching conclusions on your own. Personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation, and you should use this resource to be sure.
What to do immediately after getting injured on someone else’s property?
When you get injured on someone else’s private property, the next few steps that you take will determine the weight of your case in court. You need to take the following steps to protect your rights:
- Gather evidence: The first thing that you need to take is documenting the incident as extensively as possible. Take a lot of photographs of the area of the incident, clearly showing the danger or hazard that caused you an injury. If your injury doesn’t allow you to take pictures, then request someone else in the vicinity to take them for you. Try to write down all the details that lead to and surrounded the incident, when you feel physically able to do so.
- Take contact information and statements from witnesses: Talk to anyone who may have witnessed the incident. Note down their contact information. If possible, ask them to record their statement of the incident on video at the site of the incident. This can be used as important evidence in court.
- Get medical attention: If you’ve suffered a severe injury, then you need to receive medical attention immediately. Make sure you follow your doctor’s advice and recommendations. Do not involve yourself in any physical activity without the approval of your doctor. In some cases, insurance companies send their own representatives to gather evidence, so you don’t have to worry about documenting everything.
- File a police or incident report: If you suffered an injury in a commercial establishment, then you need to inform the manager or file an incident report with the security personnel. If the injury was the result of an attack, then get a police report. If medical attention is called, then collect their reports. Make sure you receive a copy of these reports as soon as possible.
- Keep the record of medical and other expenses: Make sure you preserve all medical bills and expense records. There is a chance that you could be compensated for all your medical bills, damages, lost wages, etc., that you suffered as a result of the incident that caused you injury. However, to prove that the injury cost you all those expenses, you’ll be asked to provide documents, such as medical records of visits to the doctor, the type of treatment that you received, receipt of all associated expenses like prescriptions, and any medical equipment.
- Consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer: Premises liability cases are usually challenging to pursue. Therefore, it’s always better to have an experienced attorney deal with your case rather than dealing with the insurance companies yourself. An experienced personal injury lawyer will ensure that you get maximum out of your claim by dealing with the involved parties directly.
- Do not sign a release before consulting with a personal injury attorney: Immediately after getting injured on someone else’s property, it’s possible that the insurance company or the lawyer of the property owner would contact you to inquire information about your injury. They may even push you to sign a release form immediately. Before you proceed with the release, make sure that you consult with a personal injury lawyer to review your case. An experienced attorney will be able to look out for your best interest. Plus, personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that you don’t have to pay them until you receive compensation.
How to ensure the success of a liability claim?
Four major factors play a crucial role in determining the success of a liability claim. They are as follows:
- Your ability to prove that the property owner was liable to the duty of care. If you got injured as an invitee or licensee, then your claim most likely fulfills this condition.
- Whether you can prove that the property owner didn’t fulfill their duty of care by not preventing the hazardous situation.
- Your ability to prove that your injury was caused due to the negligence on the property owner’s part entirely.
- Your ability to back up your damages claim with evidence and witness testimonies.
How to determine if your premises liability case is promising?
To determine if you should proceed with your premises liability claim, a personal injury lawyer would look at the following factors:
- The property owner had a duty of keeping their property hazard-free and safe
- The property owner failed at their duty
- You suffered injury and pain due to their failure to ensure safety on their property
- If you had to be on their personal property
Type of visitor
Property owners have a responsibility towards individuals who visit their property and maybe legally liable in case they get in an accident. However, the extent of their legal liability depends on the status of the visiting right of the injured individual.
The liability that the property owner owes is based on the type of visitor who got into an accident. The visitors are divided into three broad categories:
An invitee is an individual who had a formal or implied invite to be on the personal property of the owner. This group usually includes customers, employees, or tenants. It is the property owner’s utmost responsibility to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the invitee. They have to take enough measures of care so that their property is safe for the invited visitors.
A licensee is someone who also has either an implied or formal permission to be on the property. However, in this case, the visitor is entering the property for their own reasons, such as leisure or any other activity. Some common licensees are mail carriers, salespersons, guests, etc.
Property owners usually have a lesser responsibility towards licensees. Moreover, licensees need to prove that an unsafe condition on the property caused their injury. Plus, they also have to prove that the property owner or manager was aware of the hazardous situation and avoided it. The claimant also has to prove that they were not made aware of the danger. Therefore, its harder for a licensee to receive compensation as compared to an invitee.
Individuals who enter someone’s private property without authority and invite are categorized as trespassers. Since they enter the property illegally, the property owner isn’t liable to compensate for any injuries caused on their property. The owner doesn’t owe any duty of care to such individuals unless it is to prevent them from entrapment or misconduct.
Normal rules and laws do not apply to children because they can’t understand or grasp the concept of danger or entering someone else’s private property. It is the duty of a property owner or occupier to ensure due care in preventing any condition that could be hazardous to children. For instance, if a property has a swimming pool, then they must ensure that it’s properly fencedto keep children away from it. In cases of injury to children, many factors would come into play to determine the liability on the property owner.
If you get into an accident on someone else’s property, then the chances of success would mostly depend on the category of visitors that you fall in. As an invitee, your chances of winning a premises liability action against the property owner are high.
If you’re a licensee, the chances of success reduce, but you can still pursue the claim. However, as a trespasser, you’ll have minimal legal options. You can only receive any compensation if you can prove that the property owner intended to harm you.
Is your injury partially your fault?
Another thing to take into consideration is whether you were also responsible for the cause of injury on someone else’s property. It’s quite common for property owners to claim that you were at fault for your own injury to get away with any liability towards you.
Take a look at the following arguments that the insurance company of the property owner can use against you:
- You were distracted by something and didn’t pay attention to where you were heading
- You suffered an injury in the area of the property where visitors weren’t allowed to enter or don’t usually enter
- Your choice of attire wasn’t appropriate according to the situation. For example, you were wearing inappropriate shoes while visiting a hilly, muddy, or slippery area
- The dangerous area or condition was marked with precautionary signs
- The danger was out in the open and would be visible to any sensible person
If you get into an accident on private property in Florida, then the court uses the state’s pure comparative negligence law. The law determines the percentage of fault that falls on both the victim and the property owner with the pure comparative negligence standard. The damages are then divided, and the property owner is only required to compensate for their share of fault.
For example, if the court rules that you suffered damages worth $10,000 while you were 20% to blame. Then, the total cost is subtracted by 20% or $2,000, and the property owner is liable to compensate you with $8,000.
In these cases, it’s essential to gather as much information and documents as possible to support your claim in court.Make sure you take a lot of photographs of the scene of the hazardous condition at the private property. Note down the contact information of anyone who may have witnessed the incident of your injury. Additionally, keep an extensive record of all your medical bills. The more extensive information and documentation you have, the easier it would be for the court to determine the at-fault party.
If you got injured on someone else’s property in New Jersey, and unsure if you would qualify for a liability claim, then contact us at Keith Zaid law today!
We offer a free consultation for personal injury cases. With 37+ years of experience, our personal injury attorneys will ensure that you receive your rightful claim to the maximum extent.