Premises Liability: Who Is at Fault?

Written by: Coletrane & Messersmith

Obtaining Compensation From a Negligent Property Owner or Occupant

In most cases, when you go onto another person’s property, you have a reasonable expectation that the premises will be safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Thousands of people are injured because of property owner negligence each year. 

At Coletrane & Messersmith, we help individuals who have been injured due to another person’s negligence obtain compensation. In general, property owners have a duty to keep their premises free from hazards; when they fail to do this, they must be held accountable. 

If you suffered an injury on another person’s property, contact our office at (757) 223-4455 for a free consultation. 

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is the area of law that covers most injuries that occur on another person’s property. The most common type of premises liability case is a slip and fall accident. Proving liability in a premises liability case can be complex, which is why you should always consult with an experienced attorney if you are injured on someone else’s land.

Under the vast majority of circumstances, premises liability is based on negligence. You must show that the property owner or occupant was negligent and that their negligence resulted in your injury. 

Generally, in a premises liability case, this means that the owner failed to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition either by creating a hazard or because there was an unsafe condition that they knew or should have known about.

Common Types of Premises Liability Cases

There are many different types of premises liability cases, but by far, the most common is a slip and fall accident. Slip and fall accidents are the leading cause of traumatic brain injury in the United States. Tragically, hundreds of thousands of people are injured in slip and fall accidents each year.

Common types of premises liability cases:

  • Negligent security
  • Failure to maintain a building
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Dog bites and animal attacks
  • Elevator accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents (accidental drownings)
  • Hotel accidents
  • Parking lot accidents 
  • Construction accidents
  • Preventable fires

If you are injured in a slip and fall accident or because of a hazard on another person’s property, you might be entitled to compensation. It is crucial to act quickly. Under Virginia law, you only have two years from the date of the accident to bring a claim for personal injury and two years from the date of your loved one’s death to bring a claim for wrongful death.

What About Trespassers?

One of the unique aspects of premises liability is that property owners owe a different standard of care depending on the legal status of the person injured. Property owners must protect invited guests of the property owner and business customers from unsafe conditions on the property.

Trespassers on the Property

A trespasser is someone who enters the property without any legal right or permission from the owner. In most cases, a property owner does not owe a duty to ensure that their property is safe and free from hazards to a trespasser.

However, there are exceptions. A property owner may be found liable if the injury was the result of the landowner’s intentional or malicious act. Additionally, a landowner has a duty to protect children from attractive nuisances such as ungated swimming pools and construction equipment.

What If I Was Partially to Blame for the Accident?

Virginia is one of only a handful of states that follows a pure contributory negligence rule. Under Virginia law, if an injured person is found to be even 1% responsible for their injuries, they are barred from recovering damages against another person. 

While the courts have softened this rule somewhat by leaving it up to a jury to determine whether a person’s negligence contributed to their injuries, it is a very harsh standard to overcome.

It is vital to speak with an attorney if you are injured on another person’s property. A liable party or their insurance company may try to place you at fault for your injuries resulting in your claim being denied. Be careful making any recorded or written statements without first speaking to a lawyer.

Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

Were you injured on someone else’s property in the Commonwealth of Virginia? Contact our office at (757) 223-4455 for a free, no-obligation consultation. At Coletrane & Messersmith, we have been helping injured parties and their families for over a decade. Our firm handles cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay no fees unless we win. 
Our experienced lawyers know what it takes to hold negligent landowners accountable for their wrongdoing. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of our clients, including an over $3.6 million settlement against a national retailer for premises liability. Let us help you get the verdict or settlement you deserve. Call today to get started.

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Injured? Get Help, Fast.

If you have been injured contact our office for a free, no-obligation consultation. Call (757) 223-4455 to discuss your legal options. Cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay no fees unless we win.

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