Premises liability is the responsibility the owner of a property has (whether the property is private or “held in common”) for specific acts that happen on that property. Premises liability cases may include a wide array of different incidents such as: a “slip and fall” accident, a tumble from a gallery or window, a fall due to an unmarked hole, assaults, unsafe conditions that were not marked, a stumble and fall on uneven asphalt, a swimming pool mishap – the list goes on and on. Additionally, injuries caused by criminal acts that were the result of inadequate security, wounds endured at an event congregation, bar, shopping plaza, clinic, mobile home park and other locations are also potential grounds for a lawsuit.
When somebody enters your home or goes onto your property legally, they have a sensible belief, under the law, that they won’t be harmed. This means that the property owner or tenant of a property is in charge of making sure that the area is safe. A few premises liability cases, for example “slip and fall” cases, may appear to be basic. But the laws differ by state, and in numerous states, including Virginia, the law regularly supports the owner of the property as opposed to the visitor who claims to have been harmed. The premises included could be a place where business is conducted, a park, a house, or empty land. In the task of figuring out whether you have a good premises liability case, it is a good idea to ask advice from a lawyer who specializes in these kinds of cases.
Identifying the Plaintiff:
After figuring out who owns or possesses the property, according to Virginia premises liability law, it is necessary to determine whether the plaintiff pursuing legal action was an “invitee,” a “licensee,” or a “trespasser.” The owner’s obligation to the complainant can differ depending upon the complainant’s status.
Who is an “Invitee”?
An “invitee” is a person who is welcomed onto the property for a reason that is identified with the owner’s business. The “welcome” can be expressed explicitly or implicitly. For instance, a customer at a general store is viewed as an invitee, on the grounds that the store effectively welcomes individuals from the general population to their premises to buy things while at the store. The owner owes the most elevated obligation of care to an invitee. For the most part, the owner has an obligation to utilize ordinary care to caution or generally shield invitees from dangers arising from a condition on the property if the accompanying two conditions are met:
- The danger being referred to is unreasonable.
- The owner of the property knows or ought to know of the condition, and ought to understand that the condition includes an unreasonable danger to invitees.
Under Virginia law, the owner of a property should likewise have actual or constructive notice of the risky condition. The weight of evidence is on the complainant to demonstrate that the owner and/or the operators hired by him or her were aware of the threat before the complainant’s harm occurred. If the complainant cannot prove this, then the owner may not be responsible for the harm that occurred. However, if the offended party can demonstrate that the owner ought to have been aware of the unsafe condition, because of the time that passed since the condition began, and would have been aware had he or she (or the owner’s employees) used ordinary care, then the owner will be responsible for the harm that occurred.
Owner’s Obligation for Periodic Inspection
A property owner may have an obligation to occasionally investigate his or her property for perils to invitees. For instance, a department store may have to intermittently check its floors all through the store for spilled or broken product. They may also have to guarantee that merchandise is not liable to tumble from store racks, that covers and mats are legitimately secured, that wet floors are appropriately and clearly signed, and so on. More data about accidents and crimes at shopping centers can be found on our Shopping Mall Assaults and Injuries page.
Hotels and Motels in Virginia
In a few states, like the Commonwealth of Virginia, lodging and motel owners and administrators have a considerably higher obligation of consideration to their visitors and invitees. Hotel/motel owners and administrators need “to use the utmost care and diligence of very cautious persons; and they will be held liable for the slightest negligence which human care, skill and foresight could have foreseen and guarded against.” Taboada v. Daly Seven, Inc., 271 Va. 313, 326, 626 S.E.2d 428, 434 (2006) on reh’g, 273 Va. 269, 641 S.E.2d 68 (2007). For more information about hotel liability, please visit our Hotel and Motel Assaults and Injuries page.
Who is a “Licensee”?
A licensee is a person who is welcomed to a property for any reason other than a business reason, with the explicit or implicit authorization of the owner or the agents that are in control of the premises. A visitor that you welcome to your home for a social event is thought to be a licensee under the law, not an invitee. For an owner to be held responsible for wounds endured by a licensee as a consequence of a condition on the property, the complainant must demonstrate these three components:
- The owner knew or ought to have known of the hazardous condition, ought to have understood that it included an unreasonable danger of mischief to licensees, and ought to have expected that licensees would not find or acknowledge said danger.
- The owner neglected to practice reasonable care to make the condition safe, or to caution the licensee of the condition and the danger included.
- The licensee did not know or have motivation to know of the condition and the danger included.
For instance, if the owner of a home knows that one of the railings on his back porch is broken, yet the break is not clear to others, the owner may be held responsible to a visitor who is harmed as a consequence of the broken railing.
Who is a “Trespasser”?
A trespasser, in accordance with premises liability law, is somebody who infiltrates the property of another with neither explicit nor implicit welcome, for his or her own reasons, and not for the advantage of the property owner. In circumstances where owners have no knowledge that trespassers are on their property, they for the most part do not have an obligation to caution the trespassers of any perils on the property or to make the property nonhazardous for the advantage of trespassers. However, if the owner knows that a trespasser is on the property, he or she may have an obligation to utilize ordinary care to protect the trespasser from danger. Making things even more confusing, an owner’s obligation to children who are not welcomed on the property is not the same as it would be to adult trespassers. Notices must be given if the owner would be reasonable in believing that children are likely to to be on the property.
Property Owner’s Duties Cannot Be Delegated
The duties/obligations required of an owner are usually “nondelegable”. This implies that if the owner continues to possess the property, he or she cannot escape responsibility on the grounds that he or she contracted with an outside seller to give upkeep or to provide for snow and ice evacuation. For instance, a shopping center stays obligated for the state of its parking areas, regardless of the possibility that it contracts a snow evacuation organization to expel snow and ice from the parking garage and walkways. In the same way, the owner of an apartment complex stays in charge of the state of the residences he or she claims, regardless of the fact that he or she contracts with an administration organization to give all administration and support in connection to these residences.
Examining Your Case
Insurance agencies and property owners usually act rapidly in reaching possible witnesses and harmed patrons, taking photos and performing different examinations. To ensure your own benefit, you and your attorney ought to photograph the scene of the alleged mishap and unsafe condition as quickly as time permits. An accomplished personal injury lawyer ought to be called upon to have the property reviewed by suitable security engineers and other specialists so as to determine the cause of the accident. These specialists can also be employed to find possible code infringements or violations of the standard of ordinary care. An accomplished premises liability attorney will likewise have the capacity to start a point by point examination that incorporates interviews with every single potential witness and can meet with workers in order to gain further information. This will allow the attorney to find out if there were earlier accidents on the same premises or if other protests were made to the owner in the past. All of this can be done so as to help demonstrate that the owner knew of the risky condition.
The scene where your injury occurred can change rapidly. Write down whatever you can remember as soon as you remember it, and take photos if you are capable of doing so. If you stumbled from stepping on something, be sure to save the thing that you stepped on. If the thing cannot be saved, then take a photo of it as well. The majority of this evidence will be significant to your lawyer and his or her group of specialists and examiners as they figure out whether you have a winnable premises liability case.
We Are Ready to Represent You
In outline, premises liability cases can be complicated and include many different elements. It is essential to talk with a premises liability lawyer who is experienced and has been effective with these kinds of cases. If you have been hurt, or if a friend or family member has suffered a fatal injury because of a hazardous condition on another person’s property – call The Brown Firm PLLC or send us a description of your case online.
The trial attorneys at our firm can help determine whether you have a suitable case. We can strategically and aggressively seek damages for your benefit to make sure that you receive reasonable compensation for your injuries. Entrust your case to The Brown Firm PLLC, where your best interests are our interests.