Injuries occur in all types of places in our society. Sometimes, they occur in places where we’d least expect them to. Premises liability cases are brought for just about every type of property. To assess whether an injury causing accident could lead to a personal injury lawsuit, it must be ascertained if the property owner owed a duty to injured party, if the duty was breached, and if that breach was the proximate cause of the injury. These are the pillars of a negligence lawsuit for Premises Liability. Let’s take a closer look at what this means.
In personal injury litigation, the term “duty” is very important. In Premises Liability Cases, the duty is owed by the property owner to visitors of the property. That duty is typically to keep the property reasonably safe from dangerous and/or defective conditions and/or hazardous conditions. We often subconsciously assume that all property owners comply with this duty. The attorneys at the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC can tell you from experience, that you should not make that assumption. We have litigated Premises Liability Cases against hospitals, restaurants, night clubs, auto parts stores, clothing retail shops, apartment complexes and more.
The term “breach of duty” in Premises Liability Cases refers to the property owner’s failure to fulfill their legal obligation or “duty” to the visitors of the premises. This can happen in a variety of ways including but not limited to failing to repair a defective condition (broken and/or unleveled pathways, broken stairs, broken windows or doors), the failure to maintain the premises in accordance with applicable codes, ordinances or statutes (failure to cover heating coils or pipes, code violations in stairwells), or the existence of a dangerous condition (failure to clean up leaks or spills, improper disposal of toxic materials). There are an almost infinite number of ways that a property owner can breach their duty to visitors on their property. That is why it is in your best interest to consult with a Premises Liability lawyer if you are injured on someone else’s property to find out your rights.
Finally, the breach of duty must be the “proximate cause” of the injury. This simply means that the injured party must show that the primary reason that the injury occurred was the property owner’s breach of duty. Although this concept sounds straight forward, there can be several factors that contribute to the occurrence of the accident and cause the injury. The burden to show that the breach of duty is the proximate cause. For example, let’s picture a person approaching a staircase in which the top step has a cover that does not comply with the applicable building code. If the person trips over that cover and falls down the stairs and is injured the proximate cause is simply identified as the code violation, assuming no other factors are in play. Now let’s picture that same man is approaching that same staircase. Just as he arrives at the staircase, another person attempts to scurry past the man. In the frenzy, the same man trips over the cover as the man is bumped into by the passerby. The proximate cause gets a bit blurrier to figure out because there are two possible primary reasons that the man fell down the stairs. It could be because of the code violation or it could be due to the passerby bumping into the man as he arrived at the stairwell. These fact patterns can get much cloudier as more possible contributing factors are introduced.
As in all types of personal injury cases, injuries can range from minor to significant. Victims are often left unable to work. They are in extraordinary pain. This leaves the victim and their families in a position where their entire lives are changed.
Here at the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC, we know what steps need to be taken quickly to preserve your rights and protect your claims. There are no do overs if you do not act quickly and precisely. That is why it is in your best interest to have us on your side. We are here for you and as always, the initial consultation and case evaluation is free.
If you or a loved one have been injured and are suffering due to an accident on someone else’s property, call the Law Firm of Vaughn, Weber & Prakope, PLLC at (516) 858-2620. We are here for you!