I was hurt on someone else's property, do I have a claim?
You may very well have a claim if you were injured in an office building, mall, grocery store, restaurant, apartment building, or even a private home. Owners are bound by law to ensure that their properties can be safely traveled and that no circumstance or person presents a danger.
Premises liability encompasses situations in which an injury results from a hazardous condition. Slips and falls are the most common accidents in these cases. Wet floors, obstacles in walkways, and broken stairs are often to blame. You may also be entitled to compensation if you were bit by a dog, injured in a swimming pool, or victimized in some way because of inadequate security.
Laws regarding premises liability are complex. To make a case, several conditions must be met. There are also statutes of limitations, which limit your timeframe to bring a personal injury claim. That’s why it’s so important to contact an injury attorney immediately following an accident.
State laws vary, but here are some conditions where a property owner or manager may be held liable for injuries that occurred on their property:
- A property owner or manager should have been aware of unsafe circumstances by performing regular inspections and staying on top of routine maintenance.
- A property owner or manager was aware of an unsafe circumstance and did not attempt to fix it or failed to post a warning until it could be remedied. Sometimes, owners are not held liable if they can prove that repairs had been scheduled.
- A property owner, manager, or employee caused the danger. A school custodian, for example, mopped the hallway and forgot to place wet-floor signs.
- A property owner directly violated a state law. InTexas, for instance, state law requires that swimming pools at multi-housing properties, such as apartment complex, are regularly maintained so that the water is clear and the main drain of the swimming pool is visible.
Your behavior also comes into play. Were you a guest? Were you a customer? Were you trespassing when the injury occurred? Were you in a restricted area without authorization? Did you take reasonable care to avoid injury as most people would?
If you were texting while descending a staircase or walking between wet-floor signs,your case would be more difficult. . You’ll have a harder time getting compensation if you sustained injuries while walking through a restaurant kitchen because the back exit was closer to where you parked. Common sense dictates safe behavior.
Again, proof is crucial to winning a case. If you’re injured, follow these steps:
Notify the owner or manager before you leave the premises. Say as little as possible beyond explaining what happened. Don’t assign or accept blame. Don’t say, for example, “I knew I would eventually get hurt wearing these high heels.”
Take pictures of the unsafe condition that led to your accident.
Ask witnesses for their contact information.
Ask the owner or manager to document the accident and give you a copy before you leave. If you’re asked to sign anything, refuse.
Seek medical attention immediately. A medical professional might find a more serious problem, such as a concussion or other brain injury, that you’re unaware of. Hang on to all your medical records.
Document everything: how the accident happened, what time of day it was, how the area was lit, what you were wearing, who first came to your aid, what was said, what the weather was like, and anything else you remember. Keep the footwear and clothing you had on at the time in a bag. Don’t wash the clothes. You never know what may turn out to be relevant.
Consult a personal injury lawyer before you discuss the incident with anyone besides your doctor.
Don’t post about your accident on social media.
If a representative from the property owner’s insurance company calls, don’t answer any questions. Instead, refer the agent to your attorney.