Premises Liability Law
People can be seriously hurt after slipping on a wet floor, cracked sidewalk or icy parking lot. However, it may be possible to hold the owner of the premises liable for the resulting damages. While injured victims could pursue a slip and fall claim on their own, it may be better to do so with the help of an injury accident lawyer.
One of the biggest benefits of having the assistance of an attorney who has experience with these types of matters is that in some cases it might be difficult to prove that anyone was at fault for an accident. To collect compensation, it must be shown that another party was negligent. To prove negligence, a person must show that a duty of care to the plaintiff existed and was breached. It must also be shown that the injury occurred because of that breach and that the plaintiff was harmed as a result.
An attorney will attempt to gather evidence that will show that these elements existed. If an injured victim was a guest or invitee on the property where the accident took place, he or she was owed a duty of care by the owner of the premises. Conversely, in general, no duty of care is owed to a person who is trespassing on the property. Proving that an injury took place and caused damages may be demonstrated by the furnishing of the victim's medical records. In Florida and other states, the compensation that is awarded could include lost wages in addition to medical expenses.
As part of the case, it will likely be necessary to prove that a dangerous condition existed. Furthermore, it may be necessary to show that a property owner knew about the condition and did nothing or too little to rectify it.
For instance, an injured victim may claim that a property owner did nothing to clear ice from a parking lot. In turn, the property owner might claim that a sudden storm or drop in temperature made it impossible to keep the lot clear. An attorney may be able to gather evidence such as weather reports or video footage of the lot when the accident happened.
An attorney may also be able to get depositions from witnesses and obtain their testimony during a trial if one occurs. An attorney who has experience with these types of premises liability claims will know what questions to ask. If an accident happened inside of a store, for example, he or she might use maintenance records to demonstrate that the dangerous condition was not dealt with properly or in a timely manner.
In many states, a jury may look at whether an injured person exercised due care on his or her part to prevent the accident from occurring. Let's say that a person fell on a wet floor inside of a grocery store. If that person failed to walk on the dry carpet next to the puddle, he or she could be partially responsible for the resulting accident.
Even if an injured victim is partially responsible for the accident, it may still be possible to collect damages. For instance, under Texas law, an injured victim can collect damages assuming that he or she is no more than 50 percent responsible for the accident. However, in such an event, the amount of damages that the jury awards will be reduced by the percentage that the plaintiff was found to be at fault.
It may be best for an injured victim to start seeking compensation as soon as possible. This is because each state has a statute of limitations that restricts the amount of time in which a personal injury lawsuit can be filed. In California, a plaintiff has two years from the time of the injury to file a lawsuit. An exception may be made if the victim didn't realize that he or she was hurt right away. In such event, under California law, the victim would have one year from the discovery of the injury to file.
It is important to note that statutes of limitation only apply to when a lawsuit must be filed. Furthermore, if a lawsuit is filed, it may still be possible to settle with the defendant or its insurer before or during the trial. An attorney will look at the facts in the case to determine if a settlement is possible or if the best course of action is to go to trial.
If a liable party doesn't have the resources to pay damages, an attorney may search for a deep pocket. A deep pocket is typically an associated party who has the means to pay. For instance, if a minor causes a car accident, his parents might be liable for damages. If an employee causes an accident during working hours, the employer could be held financially responsible under the theory of vicarious liability.
Those who have been hurt in an accident may benefit from talking with legal counsel. In addition to working to preserve the client's rights during the legal process, an attorney could increase the odds of obtaining a favorable outcome. Typically, a consultation is free, and in most cases, the attorney will only be entitled to be paid if there is a successful outcome and the fees will be expressed as a percentage of the settlement or jury award that is received.