"Premises liability" might sound like legal jargon, but it boils down to a responsibility to protect those who are visiting one’s property. At its core, premises liability requires property owners or non-owner residents to (1) take reasonable steps to safeguard the safety of visitors, and (2) be proactive in identifying potential hazards and either eliminating them or warning visitors of their existence. Those who fail to do so can be held legally liable.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
There are many types of premises liability cases. The most common are slip-and-falls on wet surfaces; trip-and-falls due to things like uneven surfaces, protruding sidewalks or walkways, or missing floor grates; or injuries in retail spaces because an employee was not paying attention.
The duty that an owner / resident owes to someone varies based on the status of the guest. The law has different requirements if the injured person was a customer, a social guest, or a trespasser. A lawyer experienced in premises liability cases can help you determine what duty was owed to to the injured person based on the circumstances of the case.
Proving Negligence in Slip and Fall Cases
In a slip-and-fall case, you have to prove the one overseeing the premises was negligent. This involves a four-factor test.
Four Pillars of Negligence:
- Duty: Every property owner / resident must maintain a safe environment. This responsibility varies depending on the type of visitor (invitee, licensee, or trespasser).
- Breach: If a property owner / resident is aware (or should be aware) of a dangerous condition and fails to address it or warn visitors, they've breached their duty.
- Causation: This breach of duty needs to be the direct cause of the injury.
- Damages: Finally, there needs to be actual harm or damages, like a physical injury, medical bills, and/or lost wages.
Determining Reasonable Care: Another important element in a premises liability case is whether the owner / resident’s actions or inactions were “reasonable.” For example, not cleaning up a spill in a supermarket aisle for hours might be seen as a lack of reasonable care.
Potential Damages in Slip and Fall Cases
In the aftermath of a slip-and-fall case, the injured person can experience numerous types of damages. The most common are:
- Medical Expenses: for current as well as future care.
- Lost Incomes: for decreased income during the recovery and any loss of future earning capacity.
- Pain and Suffering: for physical pain, emotional trauma, and a diminished quality of life.
Understanding the complexities of a premises liability case is vital for any Oregon or Washington resident who has been hurt on someone else’s property. If you need to navigate the murky waters of such a claim, remember: you don't have to do it alone. Turn to the seasoned professionals at Vames, Wang & Sosa Injury Lawyers. Together, we'll turn a challenging situation into a fight for justice. Reach out today.
Areas of Expertise:
Car accident injuries
Motorcyle accident injury
Semi-truck accident injury