What Should I Do If I Was Injured on Someone’s Property?
If dangerous conditions on someone else’s property caused you to have an accident, you may be able to recover compensation for your medical expenses and other losses. Premises liability laws apply when a property owner acts with negligence in allowing a hazardous condition to exist without fixing it or properly warning visitors.
If you believe this to be the case with your accident, the best course of action is usually to speak with a premises liability lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help you file a claim or lawsuit, investigate your case, gather evidence, and negotiate with the insurance company to win you a fair settlement.
Examples of Premises Liability Accidents
Slip-and-fall accidents are the most common accidents in premises liability cases. Common causes of slip-and-fall injuries result from wet floors from spillages, uneven flooring, bulging carpeting, loose railings, and other trip hazards around a property.
But people can be harmed in all kinds of other ways on someone’s property. Elevator and escalator accidents, swimming pool accidents, fire or flooding incidents, dog bites, negligent security, inadequate maintenance, chemical leakage, toxic fumes, and any other injurious accident due to defective property conditions may all justify a premises liability claim.
Filing an Insurance Claim vs Filing a Lawsuit
When you speak to a premises liability attorney, they can first evaluate your case and determine your best course of action. In most cases, your initial step will be to file a claim with the liable business or property owner’s insurance provider.
This initiates an out-of-court process whereby your attorney will calculate the value of your damages and send a demand letter to the insurance provider. The insurer will send an insurance adjuster to investigate the accident and either agree or refute your claim.
Unless liability is disputed, the insurer will often begin by offering a lowball settlement figure. A period of negotiations will then ensue between your lawyer and the insurer.
When a Court Case Becomes Necessary
If the insurance company can’t agree to a fair out-of-court settlement, your attorney may recommend that you file a premises liability lawsuit and have your case decided through the court system. In this case, your attorney will need to present evidence and expert witnesses while attempting to persuade a judge and jury.
The judge and jury will then decide if you should be awarded a payout and how much the final figure should be. While court cases tend to be more stressful and time-consuming for accident victims, they also frequently result in higher payouts when successful.
Steps To Take Immediately After Your Accident
Evidence is key to a strong and successful premises liability case. It pays to bear this in mind from the very first moment you’re injured.
Ideally, the injured person will take pictures and videos of the accident scene, of the surrounding property conditions, and also of their injury. Photographic or video evidence of the dangerous conditions that caused an accident often proves invaluable when filing a personal injury claim later on.
Following an accident, property owners tend to quickly clean up and repair any hidden dangers, leaving no evidence that a hazard ever existed. This is why your own efforts to gather evidence on the day are all the more important.
If any other person on the property witnessed your accident and injury, ask for their contact details. And if a surveillance camera captured the incident, try to gain access to the footage, although this may be difficult without the help of your attorney.
Always Remember the Incident Report and Police Report
It’s also important to file an incident report with the property owner detailing the accident and your injuries. In this report, leave your contact details and describe the dangerous condition that injured you. If you fail to file an incident report, an unscrupulous property owner may later claim that the dangerous condition or accident never occurred.
Also, whenever an accident occurs and you suffer harm, call the police to officially report the details of how your property injury occurred. The police report will later provide additional valuable evidence.
You can usually collect the police report a few days later. When you receive it, make sure the details are accurate, particularly regarding anything that clarifies how the owner was liable for your injury.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
It’s also important that you seek medical attention without delay. This is essential for a strong claim, even if you don’t think you’re badly injured.
You will later have to prove that your injuries were sustained on that day because of that accident. But if you failed to call emergency services or visit the doctor on the day the incident occurred, the insurer may later say that your injuries weren’t so serious or that you had prior injuries sustained elsewhere.
When you have a checkup or begin treatment with your doctor, pay heed to their instructions and follow them diligently. Once again, if you fail to take prescriptions or attend follow-up appointments, you’re only giving ammunition to the property owner and the insurance provider, and your lawyer will have more of an uphill struggle to win you a full and fair settlement.
Also, keep all medical records and receipts for medical costs as evidence to document any injuries suffered and prove your damages. Keep your doctor updated with any pain or psychological problems you’re also experiencing. This way, the medical records can be used to prove your non-economic damages too.
The Importance of Hiring a Premises Liability Lawyer
A premises liability lawyer is a personal injury lawyer who specializes in helping accident victims who’ve suffered injuries due to the negligence of a property owner. An experienced attorney understands premises liability laws well and can explain your legal rights to you and help you decide upon the best course of action.
Your lawyer can take the burden of the entire case off your shoulders. They’ll handle the insurance provider for you, gather evidence, retain expert witnesses, negotiate with the insurance provider, and try your case before a jury if needed. It’s rarely a good idea to attempt legal action against property owners without a good lawyer in your corner.
Property Owners Often Have Deep Pockets for Their Legal Defense
One thing that frequently makes premises liability cases a challenge to win is that property owners and businesses have well-funded insurers and legal teams: far more so than cases where the defendant is an individual person. Even if you’re in the right and the owner of the property failed in their duty of care toward you by allowing the dangerous condition to harm you, they’re still likely to minimize or dispute your claim in any way possible.
This can be daunting, frustrating, and demoralizing for claimants who lack legal representation. But an experienced attorney knows how to handle property owners and their insurers. Your lawyer can keep the case moving forward steadily toward a successful resolution.
Proving the Liability of the Property Owner Can Be Tough
Another obstacle sometimes faced in premises liability is that of proving the property owner acted with negligence. A property owner, property manager, business owner, homeowner, or whichever entity or person responsible for a property has a legal duty to keep their property safe at all times.
They have a duty of care to every single person who visits the property. This duty includes immediately repairing known dangers or at least posting warning signs to keep their visitors from harm. But sometimes, a dangerous condition develops and causes an accident before the property owner has a chance to fix it, such as a very recent spill caused by another customer.
Whether or not this was the case with your accident, the insurance company may claim it wasn’t the property owner’s fault. And the less evidence you have to prove your injury happened just as you say it did, the harder any such claim will be to refute.
You May Be Accused of Contributory Negligence
All visitors to someone else’s property must exercise reasonable care in their conduct. The insurance provider may claim that you contributed in some way to your own injury through careless behavior, meaning the property owner owes you less in compensation or cannot be held liable at all.
Once again, you will need to provide proof to refute this challenge to your claim. The insurance provider may even claim that the property owner owed you no duty of care because you gained access to the property in an improper way or somehow acted in some way not suitable for the property or business purpose.
How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Prove Your Claim
All such strategies to diminish your claim are usually best combated with an experienced property liability attorney by your side. Even if you lack strong evidence, such as surveillance camera footage or eyewitnesses, an experienced attorney can still often build a persuasive case.
One way to achieve this is with expert witness testimony. Your lawyer can retain and strategically use various experts to verify the details of your claim. A building inspector expert might visually demonstrate to a jury how the conditions were unsafe, for example.
Or a flooring expert could visually recreate the area of the flooring and the trip hazard that caused you to fall. Experienced lawyers usually have access to a sizable network of expert witnesses who can make all the difference to the success of a premises liability case.
Your Lawyer Can Calculate Your Damages in Full
When you seek compensation for an injury sustained on someone else’s property, your losses may include more than the medical bills alone. Your lawyer can help you to calculate the full losses you may have a right to seek compensation for. Without this legal guidance at an early stage of a claim, injury victims often leave out various damages and effectively leave money on the table.
Lost wages are another common damage to include. You have a right to compensation for any income you’ve missed because of your injuries. You’ve probably also been through a great deal of pain and suffering and also emotional distress caused by such a stressful experience. If an injured party has suffered harm psychologically, the negligent property owner may also be held liable and required to pay damages.
When To Speak to a Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve suffered injuries on someone else’s property, the best time to speak to an attorney is immediately after the incident occurred. This will help to ensure you don’t make mistakes early in the claims process and that you start things off on the right foot. Your attorney can clarify your rights, calculate your damages, and leap into action, gathering evidence to prove that your injuries were caused by a lack of reasonable care on behalf of the property owner.
In the same way, with cases involving social guests injured on your property, it’s advisable to speak to an experienced lawyer at once to figure out your legal options. In these cases, the person injured will likely be filing a claim with your homeowner’s insurance provider.
Contact Wendt Law today at 816-542-6734 for a free consultation. Our award-winning personal injury lawyers have won over $100,000,000 for our clients, and they can fight hard to win you full compensation for any injury you’ve suffered on another person’s property.