Owners of homes and businesses have a legal responsibility to keep their visitors safe, but what happens if you’re injured on another’s property? If you suffer measurable harm as the result of negligence, you may be able to file a lawsuit based on a concept known as premises liability.
Premises liability cases fall under the realm of personal injury law, which are all rooted in the same idea: negligence. Like all personal injury cases, a plaintiff’s premises liability attorney must prove the owner of a property was negligent in its care, which directly led to injury.
It’s important to realize that just because you were injured on someone’s property, this doesn’t automatically mean they were negligent. Negligence only occurs when the owner of a property did know, or should have known that a danger existed, and failed to remedy it.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
In the eyes of the law, any accident that occurs as the result of an unsafe condition on a property is a case of premises liability. Here are some of the most common scenarios:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Inadequate maintenance of a property
- Elevator and escalator injuries
- Swimming pool accidents
- Dog bites
- Household hazard injures (asbestos, lead-based paint, radon)
- Playground injuries
- Burn injuries from unsafe wiring
Premises liability, though called slip and fall liability, can encompass a wide range of scenarios. We generally pursue premises liability in cases where we think a Billings area property owner may have violated their “duty of care.”
The Importance of Duty of Care in Premises Liability Cases
You may not realize it, but you have an implicit and legally binding duty to exercise reasonable care around others. It’s why you can’t get behind the wheel of a car after too many drinks or cross a street without looking for traffic. Land owners have a duty to keep their property safe from hazards by completing routine maintenance and upkeep. If someone suffers an injury on another’s property, one of the first things we’ll look for is evidence that the owner violated their duty of care, as this creates the framework for negligence.
The following are examples of violations of an owner’s duty of care:
- We get a lot of snow here in Montana. If you live within city limits, you usually are bound by city law to clear sidewalks within a certain time frame. If you fail to clear your walks in time and someone slips on packed down snow, you may have violated your duty of care.
- Law requires swimming pools to have adequate fencing. If a young child wanders through an unlocked gate and falls into the water, the owner of the pool may be guilty of negligence.
Exceptions to Duty of Care in Billings, Montana
In some cases, you may not be eligible to file a case on the basis of premises liability, even if the owner of the property was negligent. The following scenarios would not be appropriate grounds for a premises liability suit:
- You were trespassing.
- You were committing another crime on the owner’s property.
- You were in a place you didn’t have a legal right to be.
Next Steps: Contacting a Personal Injury Attorney
If you believe you have a case for a premises liability lawsuit, your next step is to schedule a free initial consultation. A civil lawsuit will help you pay for medical bills, lost wages, or any other costs associated with your recovery. To see if you qualify for our contingency fee based personal injury services, contact Heenan & Cook, PLLC.