Can You Sue if You Get Hurt on Private Property?

Published On: July 3, 2024

Getting hurt on someone else’s property can be a scary and confusing experience. You may be in pain, worried about medical bills, and unsure of what to do next.

One big question many people have is whether they can sue if they get hurt on private property. The short answer is yes, in many cases, you can sue if you suffered an injury on private property due to the owner’s negligence.

However, these kinds of cases, known as premises liability cases, can be tricky. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to a premises liability lawyer if you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property. An experienced premises liability attorney can look at the details of your situation and help you understand your options.

Here, we will go over the basics of premises liability law and what you need to know if you’ve suffered an injury on private property. We’ll cover when property owners might be responsible for injuries, what you should do after getting hurt, and how a premises liability lawyer can help with your case.

Remember that while this information is helpful, every situation is different, so it’s best to speak directly with a premises liability attorney about the specifics of your case.

What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability laws book for personal injury cases on the shelfPremises liability is an area of law that deals with injuries that happen on someone else’s property. The basic idea is that property owners must keep their property reasonably safe for visitors. If they fail to do so and someone gets hurt, the property owner may be responsible for the injured person’s damages.

The key in these cases is that the property owner knew about (or should have known about) a dangerous condition on their property and failed to fix it or warn visitors about it. This failure to maintain a safe environment can make the owner liable for injuries.

It’s important to understand that just because you got hurt on someone’s property doesn’t automatically mean you have a case. Several factors determine if a property owner is actually liable. That’s why talking to a premises liability lawyer is so helpful if you’ve suffered an injury. An attorney can review the details of what happened and help figure out if you have a valid claim.

Who Can Be Held Responsible in a Premises Liability Case?

In a premises liability case, the person or entity responsible for maintaining the property can potentially be held liable. This isn’t always just the owner of the property. Depending on the situation, it can include:

  • The property owner
  • A tenant or renter who is leasing the property
  • A property management company
  • A business operating on the property
  • A government entity (for injuries on public property)

Sometimes, more than one party might share responsibility. For example, if you slip and fall in a store, the store owner and the property owner can potentially be liable. A premises liability attorney can help identify all the parties who may be responsible in your specific case.

The type of visitor you were also matters in premises liability cases. Property owners generally owe the highest duty of care to invited guests, like customers in a store or friends invited to a home. They owe less of a duty to people on the property for their own purposes, like door-to-door salespeople. And believe it or not, they even owe some duty of care to trespassers in certain situations, especially if the trespasser is a child.

All of these factors can make premises liability cases quite complicated. That’s why it’s so important to work with a knowledgeable premises liability lawyer who understands all the nuances of these laws.

The Most Common Types of Premises Liability Cases

Man with backpack felling on slippery sidewalk in winterWhile premises liability can cover many types of accidents, some are more common than others. Here are some of the most frequent types of premises liability cases:

Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents are probably the most well-known type of premises liability case. They can happen when floors are wet or slippery, sidewalks are icy or uneven, or when there are unexpected obstacles in walkways. Property owners are responsible for keeping walking surfaces safe and warning visitors of any hazards.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Pool owners have a special responsibility to keep their pools safe, especially when it comes to children. This includes having proper fencing, safety equipment, and warning signs. If these safety measures are lacking and someone gets hurt, the pool owner can be liable.

Falling Objects

Objects that fall and injure someone in stores, construction sites, or even homes can lead to a premises liability claim. Property owners and businesses must ensure that items are properly secured and visitors are warned of any dangers.

Accidents on Elevators and Escalators

Malfunctioning elevators or escalators can cause serious injuries. Building owners and managers are responsible for keeping this equipment in good working order and up to safety standards.

Fire and Electrical Accidents

Property owners must follow fire safety codes and ensure electrical systems are properly maintained. If a fire or electrical accident occurs due to negligence, the property owner can be held responsible for any resulting injuries.

These are just some examples of cases a premises liability lawyer might handle. If you’ve suffered an injury in any of these situations or in another accident on someone else’s property, it’s a good idea to speak with a premises liability attorney. They can determine if you have a valid claim and what your next steps should be.

What You Need to Prove in a Premises Liability Case

If you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property and are considering a lawsuit, it’s important to understand what you’ll need to prove. In a premises liability case, you (and your premises liability lawyer) generally need to show four main things:

  • The defendant owned, occupied, or controlled the property where you suffered an injury.
  • The defendant was negligent in maintaining the property. This means they either knew about a dangerous condition and didn’t fix it or should have known about it if they were taking reasonable care of their property.
  • You suffered an injury on the property.
  • The defendant’s negligence was a significant factor in causing your injury.

Proving these elements can be more complicated than it might seem at first. For example, showing that the property owner “should have known” about a dangerous condition often requires gathering evidence about how long the condition existed and what kind of inspection and maintenance procedures the owner had in place.

This is where a skilled premises liability attorney can make a difference. A lawyer knows what evidence is needed to prove these elements and how to gather that evidence effectively.

Types of Compensation in Premises Liability Cases

Bag of money with a dollar sign and a judge's hammer on the scalesIf you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property due to their negligence, you may be entitled to various types of compensation. A premises liability lawyer can pursue all the damages you’re eligible for.

Here are some common types of compensation in premises liability cases:

Medical Expenses

This includes all current and future costs related to treating your injury. It covers hospital bills, doctor visits, medications, physical therapy, and any medical equipment you need.

Lost Income

If your injury caused you to miss work, you may seek recovery for your lost income. This also includes potential future lost earnings if your injury affects your ability to work long-term.

Pain and Suffering

This covers the physical pain and emotional distress caused by your injury. While putting a dollar amount on this type of damage is harder, it’s often a significant part of premises liability settlements.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

If your injury prevents you from enjoying hobbies or activities you used to do, you may be compensated for this loss.

Property Damage

If any of your personal property (like your clothes or phone) was damaged in the accident, you can claim compensation for repairs or replacement.

Disfigurement or Disability

If your injury resulted in permanent scarring or disability, you may be entitled to additional compensation.

Loss of Consortium

In severe cases, your spouse can claim compensation for loss of companionship or support due to your injuries.

Punitive Damages

In rare circumstances where the property owner’s conduct was extremely reckless or intentional, you might be awarded punitive damages. These are meant to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar behavior in the future.

It’s important to note that every case is different, and the types and amounts of compensation you’re eligible for will depend on the specific details of your situation. That’s why working with a skilled premises liability lawyer is so valuable. An attorney can evaluate all aspects of your case and fight for full and fair compensation for your injuries.

Common Misconceptions About Premises Liability Cases

Facts or myths symbolThere are several misconceptions about premises liability cases that a premises liability lawyer often has to address:

“If I get hurt on someone’s property, they’re automatically responsible.”

This isn’t true. You need to prove that the property owner was negligent in some way. Just because an accident happened doesn’t mean the property owner is liable.

“I can’t afford a lawyer.”

Most premises liability lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means they only get paid if you win your case. You don’t need money upfront to hire a good attorney.

“The insurance company’s offer is fair.”

Insurance companies often make low initial offers. A premises liability lawyer can help you understand what your claim is worth and negotiate for fair compensation.

“I have plenty of time to file a lawsuit.”

There are strict time limits for filing premises liability lawsuits. If you wait too long, you can lose your right to sue altogether.

“If there was a warning sign, I can’t sue.”

While warning signs can sometimes protect property owners from liability, it depends on the specific situation. A premises liability attorney can help determine if you still have a case.

“My medical bills are covered, so I don’t need to sue.”

Your medical bills are only part of your damages. You may be entitled to compensation for lost income, pain and suffering, and other losses.

“Premises liability cases always go to trial.”

Most cases actually settle out of court. A skilled premises liability lawyer can often negotiate a fair settlement without going to trial.

“I don’t want to sue my neighbor/friend.”

Remember, you’re usually not suing the individual directly, but their insurance company. Most property owners have insurance to cover these types of claims.

A knowledgeable premises liability lawyer can help clear up these and other misconceptions, giving you a clear understanding of your rights and options.

When to Consult a Premises Liability Attorney

While you might be focusing on your injuries and medical treatment, you should never delay in hiring a lawyer to handle your property-related case. Waiting too long risks losing evidence and potentially missing critical deadlines.

As soon as you have an attorney on board, you can rest assured that you have a trusted professional protecting your rights and taking the proper steps to secure compensation.

Call a Premises Liability Lawyer Today

Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer Law LogoIf you’ve suffered an injury on someone else’s property, you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. A premises liability lawyer can be your advocate, fighting for your rights and working to get you the compensation you deserve.

Remember, time is of the essence in these cases. There are legal deadlines for filing claims. The sooner you speak with a premises liability attorney, the better your chances of building a strong case.

Most premises liability lawyers offer free initial consultations, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out. An experienced attorney can evaluate your case, explain your options, and help you decide on the best path forward.

Don’t let misconceptions or fears keep you from seeking the help you need. If you’ve suffered an injury due to a property owner’s negligence, you have rights.

Take the first step towards getting the compensation you deserve. Call a personal injury lawyer today to discuss your case. With the right legal support, you can focus on your recovery while your attorney handles your claim.