Who is responsible for an injury in a premises liability case?
In most situations, the owner or manager of the property is responsible for injuries in premises liability cases. Premises liability refers to a situation where a person is injured on another’s property, due to the owner or manager’s failure to keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. This may apply in public places like malls, stores, parks, nightclubs, etc. The owner has a duty of care to ensure the premises are safe for the property’s guests, as well as its employees. It is also true if you invite someone to your home or other private property. By inviting them, you are implying the premises are reasonably safe.
There are some exceptions. If a person is renting a property, the tenant may be responsible as they are considered to be maintaining the property. However, this may not apply to unsafe conditions that existed before the tenant moved in, or issues that are considered to be the landlord’s responsibility to maintain based on the rental agreement. If you are unsure who might be liable in a premises liability case, your attorney should be able to help you figure it out.
How Does Contributory Negligence Complicate a Premises Liability Case?
Contributory negligence statutes in North Carolina make it more difficult to win a personal injury case in some situations. The basic idea of contributory negligence is that if the victim was even partially responsible for their own injuries, you will not receive any damages. So if you were hurt while driving recklessly on a golf cart, then sue the golf course owner for failing to maintain the golf course correctly, you will not receive anything if the plaintiff’s attorney can prove contributory negligence – even if the state of the course contributed to your accident.
What Does It Take to Prove Liability in a Premises Liability Claim?
There are four burdens of proof in a premises liability case. Your attorney will need to provide evidence to support the following claims:
- The person or entity that caused your injury owed you a duty of care. Generally this is true of “invitees”, or people who are “invited” to a property due to it being open to the public. So if you are hurt in a shopping mall or your local grocery store, it’s likely that the property owner owes you a reasonably safe environment to shop in. (The plaintiff may disagree about what constitutes a “safe environment.”) The same is true if you are invited to visit a friend at their home, although in this case the injured party is called a “social guest” or “licensee.”
- The person or entity failed to carry out that duty. Let’s say the mall owner did nothing about a leaking roof for months, and didn’t even instruct employees to set out a bucket under the leak, making the mall unreasonably dangerous for shoppers.
- You suffered an injury because of this failure to carry out the duty. Let’s say you slipped on the puddle under the leak and broke your wrist, for example. This part is usually proven with medical records and witness accounts of the incident. Often the plaintiff will argue that you were injured, but not because of their failure to carry out a duty of care. Again, because of contributory negligence statutes, their attorney may argue the accident was your fault and they are not liable.
- You suffered damages because of this injury. Damages are typically financial, and may include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, any permanent disability, emotional distress (this may include things like anxiety, depression, or insomnia), the cost of hiring help if you’re no longer able to do tasks for yourself, and other costs directly related to the injury.
How Can You Determine Responsibility in a Premises Liability Case?
If you or a loved one have been injured on someone else’s property, it’s a good idea to seek advice from an experienced personal injury attorney. Our attorneys at Auger & Auger Accident and Injury Lawyers handle serious premises liability injury cases and have a lot of experience in dealing with contributory negligence. They will be able to advise you on who might be responsible, and if you have enough evidence to be successful with a claim. Give them a call for a free case evaluation today!