Phoenix Premises Liability Attorney
If you have been injured on any kind of dangerous property, the Phoenix premises liability lawyers at Begam Marks & Traulsen, P.A. can help. Trips, slips, and falls are not the humorous events that are portrayed in cartoons. Instead, they can lead to serious injury, including breaks, hip injuries, sprains, lacerations, dislocations, and traumatic brain injury. In some cases, death can result.
Dog bites can also result in serious lacerations, disfigurement, and even death. Tragically, serious dog bites often occur more frequently to infants, children, and the elderly.
How Much Is My Premises Liability Claim Worth?
Determining the value of a premises liability claim is similar to valuing any other civil claim. Depending on the nature of the victim’s injuries, he or she could potentially secure substantial compensation. These are some of the types of compensation available in premises liability claims:
- Medical expenses. If a lawful visitor suffered injuries that required medical attention due to a property owner’s negligence, the injured person can claim compensation for any and all resulting medical expenses. This may include hospital bills, ambulance fees, prescription costs, and any other necessary ongoing healthcare costs.
- Lost income. A serious injury may force a victim to miss work to recover. He or she can claim compensation for the wages lost during that time. If an injury results in a permanent disability that prevents the victim from working anymore in the future, he or she may be able to secure compensation for lost future earnings or earning capacity.
- Pain and suffering. The jury hearing a premises liability case may award compensation for the physical pain, emotional suffering, and mental anguish associated with injuries. For example, the pain and suffering compensation for a broken arm would likely be substantially less than the compensation for a spinal cord injury that resulted in a permanent disability.
- Punitive damages. In some cases, a jury may decide that a property owner’s negligence exceeds the scope of typical negligence, or the property owner’s behavior involved some type of intentional tort. A jury could award punitive damages as a means of discouraging similar behavior in the future.
If you have questions about how much your case may be worth, speak to our Phoenix personal injury lawyers.
Arizona Premises Liability Law
Property owners, managers, and lessees all have a duty to reasonably maintain a property. Their duty is to ensure a property is safe and to adequately warn others of any dangerous conditions. They may be held liable for all damages that result from an unsafe property.
Homeowners might be liable for broken steps or loose railings. Business owners may be liable if they knew that a floor was slick and they failed to clean it. Owners who keep vicious dogs may be liable if the dog escapes and attacks a passerby.
Our Phoenix premises liability attorneys represent people injured due to all types of dangerous and defective property conditions:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Dog bites
- Domestic animal bites
- Inadequate lighting
- Inadequate security
- Unreasonably dangerous conditions
Types of Property Visitors
Property owners have different levels of care depending on the types of visitors on their properties. These are some of the legal definitions for types of visitors.
These are individuals the property owner has given express or implied permission to enter his or her property. Generally, these include neighbors, friends, and relatives. Property owners owe these individuals a duty of care to prevent injuries while the invitees are present on the property.
These are individuals who have the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property but do so for their own purposes. Licensees generally include people like salesmen, utility workers, and other solicitors. Property owners owe these individuals a duty of care to warn them of hazards on the property.
A property owner does not owe a duty of care to anyone who enters private property illegally, or without the property owner’s express or implied permission. However, one possible exception would be a child trespasser. A child does not have the ability to recognize the potential dangers of trespassing. If a property owner lives near children who may foreseeably interlope on the property, the property owner should take adequate steps to prevent injuries.
Some property owners must take “attractive nuisances” into account. An attractive nuisance is any structure on the property that a child may find too irresistible to ignore. A tree for climbing or an unfenced swimming pool can be considered attractive nuisances. Property owners have a duty to identify and address attractive nuisances on their properties.
Legal visitors to a property have the right to expect a safe environment. At the least, visitors should expect a warning about any unsafe conditions that may exist on the property. Once a property owner learns of a hazardous element on his or her property, he or she has a legal duty to address the issue and fix it or prevent it from harming any visitors to the property. This could include marking a dangerous area, providing verbal warnings, or cordoning off parts of the property to prevent visitors from entering dangerous areas.
Proving Fault for Dangerous or Defective Property
Any accident caused by dangerous or defective property falls under the purview of premises liability law. For example, an injury that occurs on the front lawn of a home will still qualify for a premises liability claim even if it did not happen inside the home; it still occurred on the homeowner’s property. Similarly, commercial property owners will absorb liability for premises liability claims for accidents that occur in their owned parking structures, sidewalks surrounding their buildings, elevators, and any other part of a commercial property.
Once a premises liability claim establishes that the location at which the accident in question occurred was indeed part of the defendant’s property, two general rules determine fault for a dangerous or defective property-related accident.
There is a Duty to Keep the Property Safe for Legal Visitors
The owner has a duty to keep the property safe for legal visitors. The issue of foreseeability often arises in these cases. If a reasonable person could identify that a known issue was a foreseeable injury risk, then the property owner has a duty to correct it in a timely and effective manner. For example, an apartment building owner notices a broken tile in the entryway floor of the building. He or she does not immediately correct it. The property owner would be liable if a tenant or lawful guest suffered a slip and fall injury from the broken tile since it was a foreseeable risk.
The Visitor Must Use the Property in a Normal Fashion
The visitor must use the property normally. If a lawful visitor to a property acts in an unlawful, dangerous, or generally reckless manner, it would be neither fair nor reasonable to hold the property owner accountable for any resulting damages. For example, if a guest slid down a stairway railing instead of walking down the stairs normally. This would be an unintended use of the property. Thus, the property owner would likely avoid liability if the guest suffered an injury from his or her actions.
If the plaintiff in a premises liability lawsuit can prove that he or she used the property in question in a normal, intended fashion and the property owner failed to address a foreseeable or known safety risk that resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries, it is likely the plaintiff will succeed with his or her case.
Negligence in Premises Liability Lawsuits
Similar to any other personal injury claim, the plaintiff’s attorney in a premises liability claim must prove that the defendant was negligent and caused the damages the plaintiff claims. The first step is proving the parties involved met the aforementioned two conditions: the defendant had a duty to keep the property safe, and the plaintiff had a duty to use the property normally. Next, the plaintiff’s attorney will need to show how the defendant’s failure to keep the property safe led to the plaintiff’s damages.
The plaintiff’s premises liability attorney will also need to prove the extent of the claimed damages in the case. They must also prove damages were the direct results of the negligence of the defendant. A plaintiff may suffer new injuries or a slip and fall could exacerbate an existing injury. The attorney will need to gather evidence to prove the injuries were the direct results of the defendant’s negligent care of the property.
In some cases, determining which party bears liability can be challenging, especially when it comes to owner vs. occupant discrepancies. For example, if one party owns a property but leases or rents it to an occupant, determining liability for a premises liability claim may require scrutinizing the property occupant’s lease or rental agreement with the owner. Similarly, if a guest suffers injury at a rented private property, liability may fall to the tenants instead of the property owner, depending on specific elements of the case.
Recovering Compensation from Insurance Companies
Homeowners and business owners general carry liability insurance to protect against premises liability claims. They may also have medical payments insurance. Our team of Phoenix premises liability attorneys seek information on all insurance policies that the defendant may have purchased in Arizona.
Experienced Phoenix Premises Liability Attorneys
With more than 100 years of combined legal experience, our Phoenix premises liability lawyers can help. Our team can advise you as to the merits of your claim and help you pursue fair compensation. Please call us today at (602) 254-6071 for a free, no-obligation consultation, or submit a form.