Being injured in an accident can be an awful experience. If you were hurt on someone else’s property, though, it might mean you do not have to simply live with the consequences of the injury. People are generally responsible for the condition of their land, stores, houses, or buildings, and must keep them safe for guests.
Premises liability cases are challenging. A plaintiff must not only prove that a property owner was negligent but must also demonstrate that a hazardous condition existed. Furthermore, the type of property owner and the reason you are on a property will impact your case. You need a skilled lawyer who is familiar with the nuances and difficulties present in a premises liability case. Our Springdale, AR premises liability attorneys offer over two decades of experience.
There are plenty of reasons why someone might be held responsible for injuries caused on their land, even if the injured person was partly responsible for their own injuries. If you have been injured due to someone’s dangerous property or negligence in keeping their store or home safe for guests, you might be entitled to compensation. To discuss your case in the Springdale area, call our law offices at (479) 439- 1843.
Premises Can Be Dangerous in Many Ways
In general, people do not have a duty to each other, other than to not intentionally harm them. It is very different when you have a guest on your property or in your house, apartment, store, or building. The general term for any of these lands and properties is “premises.”
Depending on why someone is on an owner’s premises, the owner owes them different levels of care under the law. For guests and invitees – especially someone who is there for a business customer – there is a duty to warn them of dangers and fix those dangers. Even for trespassers, landowners have a duty not to do them intentional harm, which means no setting traps. You also need to be careful of dangerous items that might be attractive to trespassing children.
Signs that say “Caution, wet floor” are a great example of the kinds of things that the owner of a premises must do to warn about dangers. Other signs warning of electrical hazards, flammable materials, or slippery surfaces are also attempts by landowners to prevent injury on their property.
If someone does not warn of or address these kinds of dangers, they may be liable for any injury. People who fail to clean up dangerous spills, clear ice and snow from sidewalks, or leave cables or tree roots that create a slipping or tripping hazard may be liable for injuries these cause.
Other injuries may include hanging, swinging, or falling objects that were not properly stabilized. Things like shelves, wall-mounted TVs, and anything hanging from the ceiling has the potential to fall and land on people if improperly installed.
Stairs are also a common hazard for guests. Handrails can become loose, steps may degrade and fall through, steps could be uneven, the stairs could be dangerously steep, or slipping and tripping hazards may cover the staircase. Depending on where the staircase leads, this could mean guests may fall quite some height or into a dangerous area.
Common Accidents in Springdale That Result in Premises Liability Lawsuits
When you legally enter another’s property, you do not anticipate suffering an injury. If you were hurt because of an existing dangerous condition, the property owner could be held liable for your injuries. A premises liability claim will hinge on the relationship between you and the property owner and the type of accident that occurred. Below, we discuss some of the types of premise liability cases our Springdale, AR personal injury attorneys have handled in the past.
Slip and Fall Accidents
These types of accidents are probably more dangerous than you imagine. A fall could cause serious injuries, including fractured bones or a traumatic head injury. When a surface is slippery, a pavement is uneven, or if there is another obstruction or hazard present, a person could slip and fall.
Construction Site Accidents
It is common to think that a construction site injury would fall under a workers’ compensation claim. However, there are situations where a property owner could be held liable depending on what caused the accident. If you were injured in a construction site accident, you could have grounds for a premise liability claim against a third party.
Amusement or Water Park Accidents
Amusement and water parks are fun destinations for the whole family. However, these facilities could be dangerous if park owners or managers fail to maintain the equipment or follow safety protocols. When a trill ride malfunctions or a water park is not adequately maintained, the resulting injuries could be devastating or deadly.
When you visit your friend or attend a social gathering, you do not anticipate being bitten by a dog or other animal. If a property owner failed to secure a dog that they knew posed a threat, they could be liable for any injuries the animal causes.
If your injury or accident is not listed above, you should still contract our Springdale, AR personal injury lawyers. The accidents listed above are meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive.
Premises Liability Requires Negligence
In order for any of these situations to result in the premises owner’s liability, the owner must be negligent in their care of the premises. This means not only that it was something within their control, but that they knew (or should have known) about it, and failed to repair it.
Things like spills, snow, and ice are easy targets for homeowners and store owners to notice and make safer. There is really no excuse for not noticing wobbly handrails, shelves, uneven stairs, or dangerous hanging objects. Since they are in control of these things, and it is their premises, they are responsible for repairing them.
In order to show that the premises owners are responsible for the injuries, thus liable for monetary reimbursement, there are four elements that must be met:
- The premises owner had a duty to the victim to keep the premises safe.
- The owner breached that duty by failing to make necessary warnings or repairs.
- The owner’s breach caused the victim’s injuries.
- The victim has suffered some harm which can be reimbursed in court (called “damages”).
This means that in court, you must prove you were injured because of the owner’s negligence. If it was a freak accident that no one could foresee or the owner had no clue that the danger existed, you might not be able to recover any damages. In most situations, though, courts are willing to accept that a landowner should have been aware of dangers on their premises.
If you take an issue like this to court, you may be able to recover not only for your pain and suffering from your injuries themselves, but also for any lost wages and medical bills that resulted from the premises owner’s negligence.
Type of Visitors in Springdale, Arkansas
Above, we discussed the four elements of negligence that a plaintiff must prove to prevail in a personal injury case. Typically, a duty of care is not difficult to establish. However, in a premises liability case, the required duty of care is directly related to why the plaintiff is on the property.
An invitee is an individual who enters another’s property with the expressed or implied consent of the property owner. Additionally, they are on the premises for the benefit of the property owner or the mutual benefit of both parties. The most common example of this relationship is a store. A store owner grants their consent to people to enter and shop in their place of business.
Property owners and managers owe invitees the highest duty of care. An owner must maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner, exercising ordinary care. Invitees must be protected from known dangers and hazards the property owner should have reasonably discovered. This usually entails conducting regular inspections of the property to ensure no dangers are present.
A licensee also enters another’s property with either expressed or implied consent. However, they are entering the premises primarily for their own benefit, not the benefit of the owner. A common example of a licensee is someone invited to a neighbor’s home for a barbeque.
In Springdale, a property owner does not owe a duty to a licensee until their presence is known or should be reasonably known. Once a property owner is aware of the licensee’s presence on their property, they must exercise ordinary care to avoid injuries. This means not placing the invitee in a dangerous position and providing a warning of known hazards that are not open and obvious. For example, a homeowner has a duty to inform a guest of a broken step leading off a backyard deck. If a dangerous condition is in plain sight, a property owner does not have a duty to warn their guests.
A trespasser is an individual who enters another’s property without permission, either expressed or implied, or without an invitation. A property owes a trespasser only a minimal duty of care. More specifically, a property owner must refrain from causing a trespasser injury through gross negligence or wanton or willful conduct.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in Springdale
Children are entitled to a different duty of care under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine. Under this legal doctrine, a property owner could be held liable for any injuries sustained by children trespassing on their property if the property contains a feature that is likely to attract children.
An attractive nuisance is a condition or structure that is both hazardous and irresistible to children. These conditions must be man-made, such as an artificial pond as opposed to a stream or natural lake. An attractive nuisance could also be an abandoned building, such as a shed, or an old rotting vehicle.
While a warning sign could limit liability, each case is determined on its own specific facts and merits. There is also no explicit age cutoff. A court will determine if the doctrine applies in any given case. Typically, to be held liable under the attractive nuisance doctrine, five conditions must exist.
- The property owner knew or should have known that children were likely to trespass to engage with the dangerous feature or condition.
- The artificial feature poses a risk of serious bodily injury or death to children.
- Children are unable to comprehend the risk.
- The cost of eliminating or addressing the condition is slight compared to the risk it presents to children.
- The property owner failed to exercise reasonable caution or care to eliminate the danger or protect the children.
Our Springdale, AR Premises Liability Lawyers Can Help You With Your Case
If you have been injured on someone else’s property in Springdale, our Springdale, AR premises liability lawyers can help you get reimbursed for your injuries, medical expenses, and lost wages due to injury. If someone else’s negligence in their house, store, building, or on their sidewalk or land has caused you injury, call right away – deadlines might be approaching to file your case. For a consultation, call (479) 316-0438.