If you or your loved one suffered an injury due to a property owner’s lack of proper maintenance of their property, you may want to discuss your options for financial compensation with a capable Alabama liability attorney. When an individual gets hurt on another’s property, many people do not realize that the property owner can be held responsible if the accident was preventable.
Not all accidents and injuries occur on or within an injured party’s own property. Indeed, it is not uncommon for someone to suffer an injury while at a neighbor or friend’s house, while shopping at a store, while on public property, while on property managed by a landlord, etc. When accidents occur on a property that is not owned by the injury victim, premises liability laws apply. These laws hold that the property owners owe those who enter the premises certain duties, and if these duties are breached and result in an injury, the property owner can be held liable for harm.
At the law offices of Taylor Martino, P.C., our talented Alabama premises liability attorneys have experience bringing forth claims against negligent property owners responsible for injuries to others in our state. If you have suffered an injury on another’s property, contact us today. Our attorneys will review your case for free and help you to understand your options for seeking damages.
Premises Liability – Property Owners’ Duty of Care
A property owner has a duty to those who enter their property. This duty is:
To maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition that is free from any known hazards or dangers; and
To repair and correct any hazards that are known within a reasonable amount of time.
This duty applies to all those who are legally on the property, and is the duty that is owed by nearly all property owners. The owners of private residences, municipalities, commercial building owners, etc. all must maintain their properties in a reasonably safe condition.
In the event that an injury on a property does occur, an injured party may bring forth a claim for damages if they can establish that the injury was a direct result of:
A hazardous or dangerous condition on the property; and
That the property owner knew or should have known about the condition; and
That the property owner failed to correct the condition within a reasonable amount of time.
Examples of Dangerous Conditions and Explanation of “Reasonable” Amount of Time
There are countless dangerous conditions that could exist on a property that could lead to an accident and injury. For example:
Slip and fall accidents may be caused by ice or snow, spilled substances, broken stairs, sidewalk defects, torn carpet, debris in walking areas, etc.;
Dog bite incidents which may be caused in the event that a dangerous or aggressive dog is on a property;
Drowning or near drowning incidents when a pool or other area of water or water feature exists; and
Head, neck, and extremity injuries may be suffered if an object falls from heights, a person falls from a height, or a party is injured while performing a certain activity, such as jumping on a trampoline or riding an amusement park ride.
The list above is not inclusive – there are many different injury types, and various causes of injuries, that may warrant a premises liability claim.
Remember that in order to bring forth a successful claim for damages, an injured party must prove that a hazardous condition existed, that the hazard was the direct cause of the injury, and that the property owner knew or should have known about the condition and failed to remedy it within a reasonable amount of time. These last two provisions can be difficult to prove, especially as what is considered “reasonable” may vary on a case by case basis.
Consider a situation in which a person slips on a spill of water on tile in a department store, suffering an injury to the tailbone and a minor concussion. A review of security cameras shows that three employees passed the spill, and one actually commented on it, yet over the course of one hour (from the time the spill occurred to the time of fall), no one cleaned it up. In this case, it could be argued that the employees had a reasonable amount of time to remedy the situation, yet failed to do so.
Consider, on the other hand the same situation with a slight change: security cameras show that the spill occurred two minutes earlier, when another customer dropped their water bottle. Between the time of the spill and the fall, no employees were made aware of the incident. Another example may be a situation in which an employee was made aware of the incident, and was in the process of gathering equipment to clean the spill when it occurred. In either case, the department store may not be held liable, as it was not aware of the incident or/and did not have enough time to remedy the hazard.
Duty to Trespassers
The duty of care that is owed to trespassers is different than is the duty of care that is owed to those who enter the property lawfully (invitees and licensees). In fact, a property owner owes no duty of care to a trespasser other than to refrain from causing willful or wanton harm.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
In the event that the trespasser is a child, however, the attractive nuisance doctrine may apply. The doctrine of attractive nuisance holds that a property may be held liable for injuries to children incurred on their property in the event that the owner had a hazard on the property that would be considered attractive to children, such as a pool or trampoline. This is true even if the child is a trespasser, as children do not have the ability to reason and perceive dangers in the same manner as do adults.
If you have been injured on the property of another, you may have a cause of action. At the law offices of Taylor Martino, P.C., our talented and experienced Alabama premises liability attorneys can review your case for free, and provide you with the sound, legal information you’re looking for regarding how to bring forth a claim and what your legal options are. You can reach us at 251-433-3131 now.