Missouri & Illinois Premises Liability Attorneys
Owners and occupiers of land and buildings have certain duties that require them to ensure those who visit their property remain safe. Sometimes, landowners fail to implement the care required of them, and people are injured as a result. Examples include slipping and falling on a restaurant’s unmarked wet floor; tripping over an improperly maintained large display at a hardware store; or a landlord who fails to repair a set of crumbling steps, despite a tenant’s complaints. If you have been injured in a similar situation, you may be entitled to compensation.
Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers
The duty owed by a landowner to protect those who visit their land depends on why the person is there. Generally speaking, people fall into one of three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
Invitees comprise the most common category of people. A person is considered an invitee if they enter another’s property with permission, and their visit benefits not only the landowner, but in some cases, themselves, as well. If you enter a store or restaurant that is open for business to the public at large, you are generally considered to be an invitee. You, as the invitee, receive the benefit of a good or service from the store, and the store receives a benefit in the form of payment when you are there.
Someone who enters the property of another with permission but whose presence doesn’t afford the landowner any kind of benefit is a licensee. For example, if you are invited by a friend to visit their house, you are a social guest, and generally considered to be a licensee under the common law.
An invitee can become a licensee if they exceed the scope of their invitation. For example, if you are shopping at a grocery store – something open to members of the general public – but then go into the grocery store’s stock room which is off limits to patrons, then you have exceeded the scope of your invitation. In even more severe cases, you can exceed the scope of the invitation so drastically that you become a part of the next category, a trespasser.
The final category, trespassers, is a distinction most people recognize. Someone who knowingly enters the property of another without permission is considered a trespasser. Trespassing mostly occurs on private land; however, it is possible to trespass on public property. If a public park, for example, closes at sunset, exceeding the scope of its use by knowingly entering at night can still be considered trespassing.
A Landowner’s Duty to Make Property Safe
The duty owed by a landowner to keep those who enter their property safe changes depending on the status of the visitor. When a grocery store is filled with invitees, the landowner is required to use “ordinary care” to protect them from unreasonable risks of harm. For example, if there is a spill on the floor that is ignored by employees and a visitor slips, they have failed to use ordinary care to protect shoppers.
Additionally, a landowner is required to make sure licensees are protected from risks of harm that they wouldn’t otherwise discover on their own. If you visit a friend at their house, and they know that there is a loose board on a step that looks fine, they have a duty to warn you about the dangers of that step.
Generally speaking, a landowner has no duty to protect adult trespassers from harm that occurs on their land. There are a few exceptions relating to children and repeated trespasses, but they are narrowly applied.
What Types of Property Can Have a Claim Against Them?
Both commercial and residential types of property can cause harm to visitors. Therefore, owners of homes, vehicles, commercial spaces, and land can have a premises liability claim filed against them. Just as business owners are held liable for their company properties and contractors are responsible for their worksites, landlords also owe a duty of care to their tenants’ living spaces.
The relationship between a landlord and their tenant creates special duties and responsibilities. Typically, the landlord is responsible for everything outside the apartment or rented house itself, such as common stairwells, hallways, and sidewalks. Landlords are also responsible for “permanent” objects in the rented property, like floors, walls, and appliances, which the tenant did not install themselves.
In most cases, the tenant is responsible for his or her own things inside the apartment in the event that they cause an injury to someone else. It is important to note that while a landlord may be responsible for harms caused by one of the “permanent” objects inside the rented space, if the tenant fails to report a problem to their landlord, they may be liable for any injuries that harm causes.
Visitors can become significantly injured as a result of potential hazards on another’s property. Property owners must regularly check their properties and the surrounding area for maintenance issues or potential places where visitors may get hurt. However, most fail to do so. Potential hazards in a premises liability case include:
- Insufficient security
- Defective staircases
- Ceiling collapses
- Inadequate lighting
- Improper electrical wiring
- Uneven sidewalks
- Concealed defects
- Undisclosed slippery surfaces
- Fire pits
Premises Liability Injuries
When landowners do not perform their duty of care for those visiting their property, injuries are likely to occur. Common injuries found in premises liability cases include:
- Electric shocks: Visitors are susceptible to shock injuries when a property’s electrical system is poorly maintained.
- Fractures and broken bones: Slips, trips and falls from improperly maintained facilities can result in fractures or broken bones.
- Burns: When property managers fail to protect guests from contact with dangerous surfaces, harmful chemicals, unsecured electrical systems, and scalding liquids, burns are likely to occur.
- Spinal cord injuries: A serious fall can result in spinal cord injuries, which can cause a permanent loss in mobility and sensation.
- Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries such as hematomas, swelling, skull fractures, and concussions can cause significant lifelong cognitive impairment.
How to Determine Who’s Liable
In most premises liability cases, the individual who owns the property at the time of the accident is considered liable should an injury occur. However, in many instances of commercial premises accidents, the property owner and property manager are not the same individual. Therefore, if a visitor is injured due to a hazard on commercial property, the blame will likely fall on the individual responsible for the upkeep rather than the owner.
How to Prove Your Premises Liability Case
If you are injured as an invitee or licensee on another’s property, you must prove that the owner or manager failed to properly maintain the facilities or created an unsafe condition that caused your injury. A personal injury lawyer that understands the complexities and legal issues associated with premises liability lawsuits will be greatly beneficial to proving your case. Premises liability lawyers will be able to help demonstrate that a hazard existed for enough time where an action should have been taken. Additionally, we will fight for the compensation you deserve, which can include:
- Medical expenses: Even minor injuries can have a significant financial impact, especially if you don’t possess health insurance or can’t afford expensive co-pays. Receiving ample compensation allows you to cover past, present and future medical expenses.
- Pain and suffering: Mental and emotional states are affected by nearly every injury incurred. Those who were healthy prior to their injury likely feel frustrated when they must rely on others to complete daily tasks. Recovering compensation for your pain and suffering allows you to make the most out of your situation.
- Lost wages: If you are unable to return to work for weeks or months as a result of your injury, you may miss out on wages needed to support yourself and your family. Financial compensation can offset the wages lost.
Contact the Expert Premises Liability Attorneys Today
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a property owner’s negligence, it’s critical that you contact the experienced premises liability lawyers of Keane Law LLC. Not only will we assist you in proving your case and fighting for compensation, but we will also give you the respect you deserve. All phone calls will be returned and you will never be left wondering about the status of your claim. Let’s work together to hold the negligent party accountable – contact us today for a free case evaluation.
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