I was injured on someone’s property due to their negligence. Do I have a case?
Possibly. It really depends on how well you can demonstrate in court that their negligence caused your injuries. There are also other factors to consider, such as whether your actions contributed to the injury at all. Even if the property owner’s negligence did cause your injury, if the plaintiff (in this case, the property owner or manager) can prove you also caused some of the circumstances of the incident, you will not receive any damages. There are also certain other circumstances in which the court may find that a premises liability case does not have merit.
First, there are several things you will need to prove in court to win this type of claim. Your lawyer will likely go over each of these and how they plan to prove each point:
The property owner or manager had a duty of care to provide a safe environment. In most cases, this is one of the easier requirements to satisfy. If you were in a store, restaurant, hotel, theme park, or other public place, the owner or manager of the establishment had a duty to make that property relatively safe. If you were invited over to someone’s house, there’s an implication that it’s also relatively safe, so they have a duty of care to ensure there are no major hazards, or at least warn you about them.
On the other hand, if you were not invited to the property and it wasn’t specifically open to the public when you were there, the property owner did not have a duty of care. For example, you can’t break into someone’s house then complain that you stumbled over a broomstick lying in the doorway and hurt yourself. Similarly, if you refuse to leave a public place after closing, it may be more difficult to sue them if you were hurt. The store may argue that they were not expecting guests on the premises at the time, and they did not have a duty of care to any guests at that time.
As you might guess, after establishing the duty of care, your lawyer will need to argue that the plaintiff failed in this duty. They will likely ask you a lot of questions about the incident, who else was there, and if there are any video recordings. These types of evidence can be useful in court when your lawyer is trying to establish the failure.
Third, your attorney will need to demonstrate that you were hurt due to this failure. This is where they might need to bring in witnesses who saw the accident happen, any videos of the incident, etc.
Last, your lawyer will explain the damages you suffered, including medical bills, lost wages from being out of work, permanent disability or disfigurement, chronic pain and suffering, and other costs associated with your injuries.
In many cases, due to contributory negligence laws, the plaintiff will argue that the accident was really your fault, at least partially. If the plaintiff is a business entity with liability insurance, this is even more likely to be the case.
The best way to determine if you have a case is to contact a North Carolina premises liability lawyer about a free consultation. After asking you some questions, your attorney will be able to figure out how much evidence you have to present in a trial. If your lawyer believes you do have enough evidence to pursue a premises liability claim, they will advise you on the next steps to take to move forward. If they don’t believe you have enough evidence to prove your case, they will likely advise you against pursuing it. However, in some cases they may have other ideas about how to recover some of your costs, depending on circumstances. For example, if you were hurt in a restaurant while picking up an order for a work party, and it appears unlikely you can prove the restaurant’s negligence was to blame, it’s possible you may have a worker’s compensation claim.
If you have questions or concerns about a possible premises liability claim, please contact Auger Law for a free consultation to learn more about your options.