Most people trip and fall at some point in their lives. Many of these situations are just an accident or bad luck, but sometimes, they occur because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. In these cases, the injury victim may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit.
In Virginia, a premises liability claim can be brought when a property owner fails to either repair or fix a dangerous condition on their property. These cases can be complicated because a property owner’s duty to people varies based on the reason why they were on the property. An experienced Virginia Beach premises liability lawyer can help you understand your rights.
At Poole, Brooke, Plumlee, we are dedicated to helping injury victims get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We offer free initial consultations for personal injury claims. Reach out today to schedule an appointment with a Virginia Beach personal injury attorney.
Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit
If you get hurt on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. This is known as a premises liability claim.
Generally, people who own, rent, or otherwise control property in Virginia owe others a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. However, the duty that property owners owe to others depends on their status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser:
- An invitee is a person who comes onto a property to conduct business. An example of an invitee is a customer at a store. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. They must exercise reasonable care to keep their property free from unreasonable and knowable hazardous conditions, or to warn invitees of potential dangers.
- A licensee is a social visitor, such as a friend who comes to your home for dinner. Property owners owe licensees a lesser duty of care: to warn them of any hazardous conditions that they are aware of on their property.
- A trespasser is someone who is unlawfully on the property. Generally, property owners owe no duty of care to trespassers. There are some exceptions to this rule, such as “attractive nuisances” (like pools) that may entice children onto your property.
Under these rules, your ability to recover financial compensation in a premises liability case will depend in large part on why you were on the property.
Premises liability claims can arise from:
- Slip and falls
- Dog bites
- Construction site accidents
- Inadequate security
- Swimming pool injuries
- Balcony collapses
- Falls on icy sidewalks
A person may suffer serious injuries in a premises liability case, such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), spinal cord injuries or paralysis, and internal organ damage. In some cases, these types of cases may even be fatal.
Given the complex nature of premises liability laws, it is vital to work with an experienced Virginia Beach premises liability lawyer if you have been hurt on another person’s property. An attorney will thoroughly investigate the case and analyze Virginia law to put together the strongest possible claim for financial compensation.
Who Can Be Sued for a Premises Liability Accident?
A premises liability lawsuit can be brought against both property owners and anyone who had control over the property. This may include residential or commercial tenants, property management companies, and even government agencies. The key is proving that the at-fault party was negligent (careless) in some way.
As an initial matter, you must establish that the property owner had a legal duty towards you. If you were on someone else’s property illegally when you got hurt, then you probably won’t be able to file a claim against them for your injuries. However, if you were a business or social guest, then you may be able to file a claim.
Next, you will need to show that the at-fault party had either actual or constructive knowledge of the hazardous condition. This means either showing that they knew or should have known about the condition. If they didn’t know, then your premises liability claim will likely fail.
For example, consider a situation where you slip and fall on oil at a grocery store. The oil spilled when another customer dropped the bottle, and it broke on the floor. If the spill happened just moments before your fall – and no store employee even knew about it – then you probably can’t file a claim. However, if it happened 20 minutes before your fall, and the store knew about it and didn’t clean it up or put up a warning sign, then you may be able to pursue a claim against them.
If you were hurt on someone else’s property, then you may be able to file a claim against them. Reach out to our law firm to schedule a consultation with a Virginia Beach premises liability attorney to learn more about your options for pursuing a claim.
Damages in a Premises Liability Case
In any personal injury case, you may be entitled to financial compensation – known as damages – if you can prove that the at-fault party was responsible for your losses. These damages fall into three categories: economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.
Economic damages compensate an injury victim for their direct financial losses. Examples of economic damages include lost wages, reduced earning capacity, property damage, medical expenses, and future medical treatment. You can usually prove economic damages with documents like medical bills, pay stubs, and invoices.
Non-economic damages also compensate victims, but for their intangible losses. For example, you could recover money for your pain and suffering, emotional distress, scarring, disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. It can be more difficult to prove non-economic damages, but they are just as important to your recovery as economic damages.
Finally, punitive damages are available in rare cases where the at-fault party acted intentionally or recklessly. If someone purposefully caused you to get hurt on their property – such as by intentionally removing an anti-slip pad on an area rug so that you’d slip and fall on it – then you can seek punitive damages. These damages are designed to punish people who engage in this type of conduct.
The best way to get top dollar for your injuries in a personal injury claim is by working with a seasoned attorney. They will thoroughly analyze and investigate every facet of your claim before aggressively advocating for a fair settlement with the insurance company. If necessary, they will take your case to trial to ensure that you get the money that you are entitled to under the law.
Reach Out Today to Talk to a Virginia Beach Premises Liability Attorney about Your Case
Being hurt in a fall or other accident can be devastating. In the midst of dealing with your medical injuries, you may also be overwhelmed by financial stress. Our law firm can help.
Based in Virginia Beach, Poole, Brooke, Plumlee represents clients throughout Virginia who have been hurt in all types of accidents, including premises liability claims. We will fight for your right to full compensation. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Virginia Beach premises liability lawyer, give us a call at 757-499-1841 or fill out our online contact form.
What If I Was Partially at Fault in a Premises Liability Case?
Virginia follows a pure contributory negligence rule, which holds that if you were even somewhat to blame for your accident, you cannot file a claim against the at-fault party. Insurance companies use this rule to try to prevent injury victims from getting the money that they deserve – such as by claiming that if you were on your phone when you suffered a slip and fall, you were at fault.
The best way to fight back against these tactics is by hiring an experienced Virginia Beach premises liability attorney. Contact Poole, Brooke, Plumlee today to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation for your personal injury case.
What If I Fell at a Friend’s House?
When someone is injured at a loved one’s house, they may be worried that they cannot pursue legal action to get money for their losses. In reality, the claim won’t be against your friend or family member, but against their insurance company. Your friend pays for insurance for situations just like this – and you will not be harming them if you seek financial compensation for your injuries.
If you have been hurt in a slip and fall or another type of accident on someone else’s property, don’t hesitate to take action. Reach out to Poole, Brooke, Plumlee today to talk to a Virginia Beach premises liability lawyer about your claim.