Proving Fault in Accidents on Dangerous or Defective Property
If you or somebody you care about has been injured in an accident as a result of a dangerous or defective property condition, you should be able to recover compensation from the property owner or their insurance carrier. However, recovering compensation involves determining fault for the incident. Here, we want to review the four elements of negligence that must be established in order to win a premises liability claim.
Premises Liability Lawsuits and Dangerous Property
Premises liability law revolves around incidents that occur on dangerous or defective properties, either inside or outside of structures. Premises liability lawsuits can arise at commercial establishments such as banks or offices, residences such as homes or rental units, or on public property, including public transportation, public parks, or pools.
Premises liability incidents can arise in a wide variety of ways due to a significant number of issues that can arise at the property. This can include faulty building or sidewalk designs, the use of poor construction materials, inadequate maintenance, hazardous substances around the premises, wet floors, etc. Dangerous premises could cause:
- Slip and fall incidents
- Drownings or near drownings
- Objects falling from heights
How Fault is Proven in These Cases
Determining fault after an injury occurs on another individual’s premises can be challenging, and there are four basic elements that must be proven:
It must first be established that there was a duty owed by the property owner to the injury victim. So long as the person who sustained the injury had a right to be on the premises, this typically means that there was a duty of care established. However, trespassers on a premises may not necessarily have been owed a duty of care, though this can vary.
After establishing that a duty of care did indeed exist, it must be shown that this duty of care was breached by the property owner. A breach of care can occur in many ways, including the property owner failing to maintain or inspect the premises or allowing dangerous conditions to arise. So long as the property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition and they failed to remedy the situation, this likely establishes a breach of duty.
The next step is showing that the breach of duty directly led to the injury the victim sustained. Just because a breach of duty exists on a premises does not necessarily mean that it caused the injury.
Finally, after it is shown that the breach of duty did cause the injury, the monetary losses the victim sustained must be established (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering).
We strongly encourage any person who sustains an injury on someone else’s property to work with a skilled premises liability lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer can use their resources to investigate exactly what happened and obtain the evidence needed to prove liability to the insurance carrier or at trial. Premises liability injury victims may be able to recover compensation for their medical bills, lost income if they are unable to work, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage losses, and pain and suffering damages. The total amount of compensation available will vary depending on several factors, including injury severity and the length of the recovery.