Trip and fall incidents (often described as slip and fall cases) are also known as premises liability cases can be a tough experience for both parties. Nobody wants their day interrupted by a personal injury, or their business halted by it. The often-unfair stereotype of a greedy customer trying to cash out on a false lawsuit does not make it any better, but do not let that stigma get between you and the compensation that you may deserve. The first step is to find out your legal status as an occupant of the location where the incident occurred, and when the owner is liable for your injury.
The visitor's legal status.
There are three types of legal classifications for visitors to a business or residence:
- Invitee: someone who enters a publicly open building for the purposes of doing business.
- Licensee: someone who enters a piece of private property not open to the public, but with the implied consent of the owner. Someone spontaneously visiting their Uncle would be a good example of a licensee.
- Trespasser: Someone who enters a piece of private property without the consent of the owner.
When is the owner liable?
Each type of visitor is owed a higher or lower level of responsibility from the property owner.
Invitees are owed the highest degree of responsibility, and the owners of the property in question are required to exercise ordinary maintenance and inspection of their business to ensure it is reasonably safe for their guests. A classic example of owner negligence would be the absence of wet floor signs to warn customers of slippery and unsafe surfaces. Owners are also responsible for protecting their guests from any criminal conduct they know or should have known is occurring on their property.
Licensees are owed a lower degree of care, and the property owner is only legally responsible for their guests' injury if they already knew or should have known about a danger present on their property and failed to either warn their guests or fix the problem.
Trespassers are generally not owed any compensation for injuries sustained due to the state of the property in question, but owners are not permitted to harm them intentionally and wantonly. An exception to an owner's lack of liability for the injuries of a trespasser would be in the case of someone who is cognitively handicapped, or children being harmed by what is known as an attractive nuisance that may tempt a child to play with it but was not properly kept safe. A good example would be an uncovered swimming pool.
The visitors state of mind:
When assessing the liability of a property owner, the state of mind of the visitor is a very important factor to analyze. Your ability to maintain awareness of your surroundings and control of your body is essential to avoid potential hazards, and if a visitor was proven to be intoxicated on drugs or alcohol before the incident occurred the owner will be held far less liable for injuries sustained.
If you have suffered a personal injury at a business or residence do not be afraid to ask whether you may be entitled to compensation for your hardship. Consult a lawyer like Mr. Schneiderman with the experience and expertise to bring justice to you. Paul Schneiderman understands that an individual or business can be held liable for failing to make premises safe, and he has creative ideas in helping clients in pursuit of these types of personal injury claims.