Lugar Law PC will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation if you were hurt on someone else?s property.
Under premises liability law, property owners owe visitors a specific duty of care. In other words, the property owners are required to maintain the safe condition of the premises. If the owners fail to keep their properties safe and this puts you or others in harm?s way, the owners may be liable for any injuries you suffer. Before you rush to file a premises liability lawsuit, though, you need to talk with a knowledgeable premises liability attorney about your circumstances.
Property owners are not liable for anything and everything that can go wrong on their properties. By working with Lugar Law PC, and our Roanoke personal injury lawyers, you will have an experienced professional to investigate the situation and advise you of your legal rights and options. If you have a valid premises liability claim, then we will fight hard for you to receive everything you deserve.
What Is Premises Liability Law in Virginia?
Under Virginia?s premises liability law, if a property owner owed you a duty of care because you were a business customer or social guest, and the owner failed to uphold that duty, then any resulting injuries you suffer could be the owner?s responsibility.
Premises liability generally depends on your status on the property at the time, like whether you are considered a licensee, invitee, or trespasser. You should speak to a premises liability attorney about when a property owner owes you a duty of care and what the duty entails.
Your Status on the Property
In Virginia, a property owner?s duty of care depends upon your status. To determine your status on the other party?s property, call a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible.
An invitee is someone who enters another person or business?s property based on an implicit or explicit invitation to do so. Invitees are often known as business invitees and are on the other person?s land for a business purpose. Invitees are customers, clients, and patients of businesses. Property owners owe invitees a duty to use ordinary care in maintaining their premises in a reasonably safe condition. This requires owners to routinely inspect their properties, make repairs, and warn invitees of hidden hazards. This is the highest standard a property owner owes to others.
A licensee is someone who enters onto another person or business?s property with permission, but for their own benefit. If you are a social guest at someone?s home during a party, you are a licensee. Property owners owe licensees the duty to warn of dangerous conditions on the property when the owner knows of those conditions. This is a duty of ordinary care, but to a slightly lesser degree than what is owed to invitees.
A trespasser is someone who is on another person or business?s land without permission. A property owner does not have to maintain their property to keep trespassers safe. Usually, property owners are only required to not intentionally harm trespassers or recklessly cause them harm. However, if the trespasser was a child, then that is a different matter. A property owner may owe a greater duty of care if they are aware that children may trespass on their property.
The Elements of a Premises Liability Lawsuit
A premise liability lawsuit can be complicated, yet it can be broken down into a few elements. To receive compensation through a premises liability claim, you must establish:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care: You would need to show that you were an invitee or a licensee, which established a legal relationship between you and the property owner. If you were an invitee, then the owner owed the highest duty of reasonable care. If you were a licensee, then the owner owed you a duty of reasonable care to a lesser degree.
- The property owner breached the duty of care: You must show that the property owner failed to behave in the way they should. You must establish that the owner failed to inspect its property; failed to make repairs to hazards it found on its property; or failed to provide warnings regarding property dangers.
- The property owner?s breach caused the accident and your injuries: Virginia law requires you to establish causation between the other?s breach and your injuries. If you were hurt in an accident on the property, that accident needs to be the result of the owner?s inaction. The breach needs to be the direct cause, which means but for the owner?s inaction, the accident would not have occurred. The breach must also be the proximate cause of your injuries, which means that the accident was a foreseeable consequence of the owner?s inaction.
Types of Premises Liability Claims
At Lugar Law PC, our lawyers handle many claims arising from dangerous properties. Some of the most common premises liability lawsuits involve:
- Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents
- Falls from heights
- Stairway accidents
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Falling objects
- Trampoline accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Sports stadium and concern venue accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Inadequate security and crime
- Animal attacks and dog bites
- Food poisoning
- Asbestos and other hazardous material exposure
- Fires and explosions
Child Trespassers and Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
When it comes to trespassers, courts view adult trespassers differently than children. Adolescents and young children do not have enough awareness of dangers or maturity to always follow the rules. They are much more likely to wander on to other people or business?s properties to explore and play. This is why Virginia follows the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, which protects trespassing children.
Under this law, a property owner can be liable for failing to protect children from an attractive nuisance on their property. An attractive nuisance is something that is interesting to children but may be dangerous. Common attractive nuisances include swimming pools and hot tubs, man-made ponds and fountains, playground equipment, construction sites and equipment, railroad tracks, abandoned vehicles, other machinery, and abandoned large appliances.
If your child was injured in an accident on someone else?s property, call a premises liability lawyer right away. The property owner may be liable for your child?s injuries if:
- The owner knew or should have known that children might trespass on the property;
- The condition on the property could cause a child harm or death;
- The child was too young to understand the dangers of the condition;
- The cost of repairing, maintaining, or eliminating the condition was small in comparison to a child suffering harm; and
- The owner failed to act reasonably in order to prevent harm to a child.
Premises Liability Compensation
You should speak with an experienced lawyer about your specific damages and the potential value of your claim. It can be difficult to gauge the precise value of your injuries without an attorney?s insight. At Lugar Law PC, we have handled many premises liability claims. Through our experienced and legal research, we will estimate the value of your non-economic damages. There are various methods to obtain this estimate, one of which is using a multiplier of your economic losses and expenses.
When you are hurt on another person or business?s property because of a dangerous condition, then you may be able to pursue compensation for your injuries. The specific amount will be based on your damages, which are the physical, emotional, and financial injuries you suffered because of the accident. We may use a multiplier between 1.5 and 5 to determine an appropriate amount of compensation for your pain, suffering, and other non-economic injuries. Overall, you can seek compensation for:
Physical Pain and Suffering
Reduced Earning Potential
Reduced Quality of Life
Defending Against a Premises Liability Claim
When you file a premises liability lawsuit, it is likely that the property owner will take steps to defend themselves. One common premises liability defense is that the danger was open and obvious. This means that the owner could reasonably expect those on their property to notice the danger and avoid it. Owners are not required to warn against or fix hazards that are open and obvious and can be avoided by invitees and licensees.
Other methods of defending against premises liability claims are to focus on one of the specific elements. The property owner may claim that you were a trespasser and they did not owe a duty of care toward you. Or, what is more likely, is that the owner will claim they did not breach the duty of care they owed you. If the owner can demonstrate that it did everything it should do under its legal duty, such as inspect the property, put up warnings, and make necessary repairs, then you may not be able to prove all of the necessary elements of the claim.
Another possible defense the property owner can make is that the accident was not a direct result of their breach. They may acknowledge a breach of duty, yet provide evidence that your accident was related to another matter. Or, an owner may argue your accident and injuries were entirely unforeseeable in regard to the breach, and in essence, that they should not be responsible for a fluke.
The Statute of Limitations for Premises Liability
If you wish to bring a lawsuit based on suffering injuries on another party?s dangerous property, then you must file that lawsuit within two years of the day you were harmed. Virginia has a two-year statute of limitations for premises liability claims and all other claims related to bodily injuries.