Premises Liability

When the owner of a business or home fails to ensure the safety of those who enter the premises, they may be held responsible for any injuries or harm that occur. Premises liability laws are in place to enforce this responsibility.

A premises liability claim can result from a wide variety of issues, from sprains and strains to traumatic brain injuries and even wrongful death. In circumstances where the property owner failed to keep a victim safe or created a hazardous condition, accident victims have the right to take just legal action.

At Schilling & Esposito, we understand the damages that can occur from one of these events and have a record of helping Virginia accident victims reach fair settlements and litigate when necessary.

Common Types of Premises Liability Cases

There is almost an infinite number of ways to get injured on another person’s property, although some are more common than others. When you enter a business or a property that is owned by someone else, there is always a risk. Some of the more frequent causes of injury in these circumstances include:

  • Slip and fall accidents
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Snow and ice accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Fires
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Exposure to toxic fumes or chemicals
  • Assault due to inadequate security
  • Escalator and elevator accidents
  • Flooding and water leaks
  • Defective conditions on the property
  • Hazards due to inadequate maintenance

Injuries on another’s property can be severe. If you or a loved one has been hurt due to the carelessness or negligence of a property owner, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Some of the damages you can claim include the cost of medical care, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.

Slip and Fall Cases in Virginia

By far, the most common type of premises liability case is a slip and fall injury. Few people anticipate walking into a business or another person’s home, only to end up with severe injuries after slipping or tripping and falling. Some of the common conditions that can lead to these accidents include:

  • Wet or oily floors
  • Uneven thresholds
  • Defective staircases
  • Ice or snow accumulation
  • Unsecured carpets or rugs
  • Loose, deteriorating, or broken flooring
  • Hidden extension cords
  • Debris or equipment left on the ground
  • Inadequate or defective handrails

 What Happens If You’re Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

Premises liability cases can be complex because visitors on someone else’s property are not treated equally under the law. The law in Virginia breaks down the status of visitors into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The duty of care owed to each varies depending on which applies to the accident victim.

  1. An invitee is someone that the property owner or occupier has invited onto the property, and the visitor arrives because of that invitation. People that walk into a business open to the public are considered invitees. The highest standard of care is due to invitees. A property owner or manager must maintain a safe premises and warn visitors of any hidden dangers.
  2. licensee is a person that has the consent (express or implied) of the owner to enter the property and does so for a business or social purpose. A social guest, volunteer, or hunter is considered a licensee. The property owner must warn these visitors of known dangerous conditions. If there is no knowledge of a hazard, liability does not exist.
  3. trespasser is someone who enters the property of another without consent. The property owner does not have a duty to maintain a safe premises for trespassers. The only exception is regarding children, who may be injured by an “attractive nuisance.”

 How Can You Prove a Premises Liability Case?

Just because you were injured on someone else’s property, that does not mean that you are going to receive a fair settlement for your losses. You must prove liability, which can be a tall order. Depending on your status as a visitor to the property, you will need to show that the owner owed you a certain standard of care. Next, you will need to prove that the property owner failed to uphold their duty. Finally, you must show that the breach of duty resulted in or worsened your injuries.

An insurance company will most likely attempt to avoid taking responsibility for your losses. They may argue that the property owner wasn’t aware of a dangerous condition or might even try to shift the blame to you. Because Virginia is a contributory negligence state, any finding of responsibility by the victim (even 1%) will preclude them from recovering damages.

Having the right evidence and advocates on your side can help you prove a premises liability case. Some examples of evidence that we use in these cases include:

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Surveillance footage of the accident
  • Photographs of the scene
  • Incident reports
  • Mop & sweep logs
  • Architectural drawings of the premises
  • Maintenance records
  • Employee statements
  • Employee training manuals
  • Third-party vendor contracts
  • Medical records

The best way to protect your legal rights is to speak with an experienced Virginia premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident. If you have physical and emotional injuries, you have the right to seek full and fair compensation for your losses.

Contact a Virginia Premises Liability Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been seriously hurt in a slip and fall accident or any other sort of accident on another’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. When these accidents occur, it’s not uncommon for an insurance company to contact you with release requests and even offers of settlement. It’s generally not a good idea to speak with these parties until you first consult with a knowledgeable Virginia premises liability attorney.

At Schilling & Esposito, we understand that each case is unique and promise to give your case the time and attention it deserves. We are compassionate with our clients while aggressively pursuing the compensation they need and deserve from responsible parties.

Contact our Richmond office now at 804-261-1001 or reach us online to schedule a free consultation.