The first step to building a strong dangerous property case is to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. A dangerous structure can create a hazard for the public and result in a lawsuit.
A property owner is responsible for meeting their duty to use reasonable care to prevent other individuals from being injured. If an individual is injured due to the negligence of the property owner, the injured party may be able to sue for damages.
By reviewing this article and becoming familiar with the requirements for a dangerous property case, an individual can effectively communicate with their attorney regarding their case. A dangerous property and/or building lawsuit may be very complicated and there may be a fact an individual does not realize they need to share with their attorney until they become familiar with this type of case.
A public building and/or business premises may pose a hazard for a number of reasons. For example, if the owner is aware that a handrail on a flight of stairs is loose and/or unsafe, and they fail to remedy the issue, they may be held liable for an individual’s injury. Another common example of negligence is when an individual suffers a slip and fall injury due to debris or substances on the floor, such as food items and/or water.
Structures often become dangerous due to daily use and/or a lack of maintenance. A property owner has a duty to safely maintain their property, whether it is residential or commercial.
Some common examples of residential structures that may become dangerous include:
- A balcony;
- A deck;
- A porch;
- A staircase;
- An elevator; and/or
- Handrails and/or other support structures.
Common examples of commercial structures that may become dangerous include:
- A stairwell;
- Overhead lighting;
- Overhead shelving;
- Displays for products; and/or
- Doors, including automatic doors.
State laws vary regarding premise liability, so it is important to have the help of an attorney. It is important to note that the standard of care a property owner owes to a visitor depends on the type of visitor.
An invitee is owed the highest duty of care from a property owner. An invitee is a customer and/or patron who has been invited to the property by the owner.
A licensee is owed the second highest duty of care. A licensee is a social guest of the property owner who enters the property and/or remains on the property for a purpose other than business, such as a friend of the owner.
Trespassers are owed the lowest duty of care. The definition of a trespasser varies by state but generally refers to an individual who has entered and/or remained on a premises without the consent of the property owner.
This is important information even for every day individuals. Most property owners are not aware that they owe a duty to others, even trespassers, with regard to their property.
What Documents and Questions Should I Bring to My Personal Injury Lawyer?
It is important to gather any relevant documents and compile a list of any questions an individual has prior to their consultation.
Relevant documents may include:
- Photographs of injuries sustained, if available;
- Photographs of the dangerous structure and/or condition, if available;
- Any and all medical information include bills and injury diagnoses;
- Any correspondence from the property owner, if applicable; and
- Any other documents requested by the attorney.
It will likely be the case that the attorney will request additional documents based on the information obtained in the consultation. An attorney may determine that additional information is needed on the individual’s injuries in order to prove damages.
It is also important for an individual to compile a list of any questions they may have prior to meeting with their attorney. There is no ridiculous question and an attorney will be glad to patiently explain anything their client does not understand and/or wishes to know.
What Makes a Strong or Weak Business Dangerous Property Case?
A strong dangerous property case begins with a personal injury lawyer. A lawyer will be familiar with the laws of the state as well as how to present a convincing argument in court. The legal concepts in a personal injury case can be complex and difficult to understand, making an attorney invaluable.
There are some elements of negligence on the part of the property owner that must be proven in order for the injured individual to collect damages. These include:
- A dangerous condition existed on the owner’s property;
- The property owner was aware of existence of the dangerous condition;
- The property owner failed to remedy the dangerous condition and repair and/or remove the dangerous condition; and
- The victim sustained an injury due to the property owner’s breach of their duty of care to the invitee, licensee, and/or trespasser.
The injured party must prove that the property owner’s negligence was the actual and proximate cause, also called causation, of their injuries. The injured party must then show that there was a quantifiable loss and/or damage as a result of the property owner’s negligence.
What Types of Dangerous Property Cases Benefit the Most from an Attorney’s Help?
Any and all dangerous property cases benefit from an attorney’s help. As noted above, personal injury cases may be complex and contain legal concepts a regular individual will not be familiar with.
It may be difficult to prove an injury was caused by a dangerous condition. In addition, there is a statute of limitation on premises liability claims. A statute of limitations if the amount of time an individual has to file a lawsuit against a defendant. These will vary by state.
When determining damages, a court will usually consider the fault of both parties to an incident. For example, if the injured party is somehow partially at fault, the court may reduce the amount of damages awarded.
If damages are available, they may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering, if the injured party can prove long term effects;
- Medical bills resulting from the injury, including hospital stays and/or doctor visits;
- Future medical bills for treatments such as physical therapy and/or rehab;
- Lost income due to work missed as a result of the injures; and/or
- In some cases, compensation for lost earning capacity.
In certain cases, an individual may be able to request punitive damages. This type of damages is awarded as punishment to deter future similar behaviors.
In order to obtain punitive damages, the injured party must show the defendant’s conduct was particularly egregious, including wanton behavior, intentionally negligent behavior, and/or fraudulent behavior.
Some states have a cap on the amount of punitive damages that may be awarded. Other states limit a punitive damages award to a reasonable amount based on the value of the case and additional relevant factors.
When Do I Need a Dangerous Property Attorney?
You need a dangerous property attorney for any case involving a dangerous structure and/or condition. If you were injured due to the negligence of a property owner or due to a dangerous structure, it is important to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
An attorney will help you build a strong case, advocate for damages to compensate you for your injuries, and represent you during any court proceedings, if necessary. An attorney may also be able to negotiate a settlement with insurance companies and/or businesses, if possible.