Property owners, property managers, or those who otherwise have control of the premises are generally required to exercise reasonable care in their duty to protect or warn others of dangers or dangerous conditions on the property. When property owners fail to keep their property safe, guests, visitors, and people just passing through can be seriously injured by dangerous defects, loose wires, spills, icy sidewalks, and other hazards.
You have rights when you walk down the street, enter a store, or even visit a friend. Property owners should be held liable if their conduct or inaction causes a serious injury. You should not bear the full burden of expensive medical care or lost work because of a negligent property owner.
If you have been injured due to a dangerous condition on another person’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. Our Arkansas premises liability attorneys have more than 20 years of experience standing up for injured Arkansans. If you or a family member was injured in an accident on someone else’s property, call our law offices today to schedule a free legal consultation. Our number is (479) 316-0438.
What Types of Premises Liability Accidents Are There?
Since premises liability accidents include nearly any accident that occurs on another person’s property, the number of types of accidents is limited only by the circumstances one can imagine. However, there are some common scenarios for premises liability accidents that can happen in many everyday scenarios:
- Slip and falls– A slip and fall is likely the most common premises liability accident. These accidents can occur due to a spilled liquid, snow or ice on a sidewalk, or because of slippery flooring material. Falling suddenly can lead to head injuries, broken bones, back injuries, and other injuries that can cause lasting effects.
- Trip and falls– Trip and fall accidents can occur under a variety of circumstances. A cracked sidewalk, debris in a walkway, or insufficient lighting can all cause or contribute to trip and fall accidents.
- Falling objects– Being struck by a falling object can cause traumatic brain injury, broken bones, and other severe injuries. Injuries from falling objects can occur due to improperly stacked or overstocked shelves in a store, falling signs or awnings, or items that a worker drops.
- Stairwell injuries– Insufficient lighting, uneven stairs, a weak or broken handrail, and debris on the stairs can all lead to people tripping or slipping and falling down the stairs. Falling on a staircase can lead to severe injuries, as you could tumble down a long-distance, potentially suffering serious brain injuries, broken bones, and other injuries.
- Parking garage injuries– Injuries in parking lots can occur because of unclear or inappropriate signage that leads drivers into pedestrian areas. Blind corners, slippery surfaces, and broken or crumbling pavement can also lead to injuries, as can negligent security or supervision that leads to patrons becoming the victim of crime or assault.
- Electrocution– Failing to post signs for things like high voltage wiring or failing to warn guests or visitors about loose wiring or exposed electrical outlets can lead to severe injuries. Especially in places where wiring or electrical current might be exposed to water or easily accessible to small children, property owners need to take care to keep guests safe.
- Drowning– Property owners with ponds or swimming pools need to take care to prevent falls or unsupervised swimming on their property. Some property features, like swimming pools, may lead to trespassers or invited guests injuring themselves or drowning, potentially causing death or serious injury if not helped immediately.
These are not the only types of premises liability accidents. Our attorneys represent victims and their families on any type of injury case brought about by a dangerous or defective condition on someone else’s property. If you were injured in a way that does not appear on this list, contact our law offices today to discuss your case.
How Does Arkansas Law Protect You?
The extent to which one is protected and can recover under Arkansas law depends on their status when they were on the property. For example, landlords and property owners do not typically owe a trespasser a duty to clean up or warn about hidden dangers. However, the landlord has a duty to refrain from causing or attempting to cause intentional harm, even to a trespasser.
For children who may be attracted to the property by a swimming pool or another installation, a duty to protect them will still exist. This is known as the “attractive nuisance” rule, and it puts a burden on property owners to help keep children safe, even if they trespass on their property.
Furthermore, those who are invited to another person’s or business’ property are owed a duty of reasonable care. That means that landowners must take reasonable steps to protect or warn house guests, retail store patrons, and other individuals with express or implied permission to be on the property. If the landowner does not, he or she may be liable for damages due to the injury.
In any case, where there is an injury, there may have been negligence that led to the injury. Of course, sometimes true accidents happen, but it is important to speak with an attorney to help understand if there may be a way to hold the property owner liable for injuries that you suffered.
How to Prove Negligence in an Arkansas Premises Liability Case
Just like any personal injury lawsuit, if you wish to be awarded financial compensation for your injuries, you will have to prove that a defendant’s conduct or inaction was negligent. There are very few premises liability cases where proving liability is straightforward or simple. Our Arkansas premises liability attorneys will rely on the available evidence to prove that a defendant was negligent.
In premises liability cases, the defendant is typically a property owner or managed who owes a legal responsibility to the plaintiff. The reason the plaintiff suffered an injury is because of a dangerous condition on the owner’s property. The property in question could be the interior of a building or the surrounding grounds.
What the Plaintiff Must Prove
In every lawsuit based on negligence, a plaintiff must prove four elements. Premises liability claims are no different. Still, they present additional challenges. To begin with, a plaintiff must demonstrate that the property owner or manager owed them a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused their injury. The final element the plaintiff must prove is that the injury resulted in actual damages.
These four basic elements are the cornerstone of nearly every personal injury case. However, our Arkansas premises liability attorneys will have to demonstrate additional factors that are particular to a premises liability claim.
Ownership of or Control Over the Property
The first additional element in a premises liability claim is proving the defendant either owned or had control over the property where the injury occurred. This includes showing that the defendant had an obligation to examine and inspect the property was reasonably safe for its intended use. Generally, proving ownership or control is often a matter of paperwork.
The Defendant’s Maintenance of Use of the Property was Negligent
Our Arkansas premises liability attorney will have to demonstrate how the defendant is responsible for the dangerous condition on their property. Legally, this is typically established by showing that the defendant’s conduct did not adhere to the appropriate standard of care. For example, a landlord who failed to replace a burned-out bulb in an apartment building’s stairwell could be held liable if someone tripped in the dark and injured themselves.
The Plaintiff’s Status
The legal obligations a property owner has been determined by the plaintiff’s status and why they are on the property.
A licensee is an individual who enters the property with the expressed or implied permission of the owner. There is typically no intention of either party receiving a benefit or performing a service for the other. A common example of a licensee is a friend who is invited to another friend’s home for dinner. The property owner does not owe a licensee a legal obligation until they know that the licensee entered their property. Furthermore, this obligation only extends to hazards that are not obvious but known to the property owner. For example, if there is a broken step on the outside deck, the property owner must disclose this information to the licensee. Additionally, the property owner is not permitted to engage in conduct that puts the licensee in harm’s way.
The next status a plaintiff could have is that of an invitee. An invitee enters a property for the mutual benefit of themselves and the property owner. The most common example of an invitee is someone entering a retail store to shop. The owner has an obligation to take reasonable care of the property so there are no defects that could injure their invitees.
However, if the dangerous condition is obvious to the invitee, the property owner does not have an obligation to the invitee. For instance, if several clothes racks fell into an aisle and blocked the path, an invitee cannot claim that the property owner was negligent if they were injured while attempting to climb through the wreckage.
Not everyone is invited onto a property. A trespasser enters a property without the expressed or implied consent of the property owner. While trespassing is illegal, the property owner still owes the trespasser a duty of care. Under these circumstances, the property owner must not act in a grossly negligent manner. The textbook example of conduct that would constitute a breach of this duty is preparing booby traps in the property.
Defenses Property Owners Will Use in an Arkansas Premises Liability Case
Because of the required elements in a premises liability case, there are some defenses a property owner will use to limit or deny responsibility.
Assumption of Risk
One of the more common defenses a property owner will employ is that the plaintiff assumed the risk before being hurt. To be successful, the defendant will have to prove that the plaintiff knew about the danger, understood the risks it presented, and voluntarily exposed themselves to the danger.
No Knowledge of the Hazard
One of the key elements in a premises liability case is proving that the property owner or manager knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. Another common tactic a defendant will use is to claim that they did not know about the hazard. To overcome this position, our Arkansas premises liability lawyers need to prove that through reasonable and ordinary actions, the dangerous condition would have been discovered. For example, a routine inspection of the property would reveal that a stair was broken.
Arkansas law adheres to the doctrine of modified comparative negligence. Under this doctrine, a plaintiff could have their jury award reduced or denied based on how much their conduct contributed to their injury. Defendants are aware of this doctrine. Some typical claims property owners will make include alleging the plaintiff was texting, wearing the wrong footwear, or was otherwise not paying attention to the surroundings. After a trial, a jury will be charged with apportioning blame among the parties. If the defense convinces the jury that your actions were 50% or more to blame, you would be prohibited from receiving any compensation.
Contact Our Arkansas Premises Liability Attorneys
Proving a premises liability case requires a clear and focused approach. Our attorneys and staff will work to hold the negligent party accountable for your injuries. For your free, confidential initial consultation, contact our experienced Arkansas premises liability lawyers by calling (479) 316-0438.