Woman wrapping injured arm

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability refers to the responsibility a property owner or possessor has to keep their property safe for others. If they fail to do this and someone is injured, the injured party may have a valid personal injury claim for damages. 

Basics of a Premises Liability Claim

Not all injuries that occur on someone else’s property are eligible for compensation. In order to have your damages covered, you will have to prove a variety of elements, including: 

  • The property owner or occupier failed to keep their property safe 
  • The property owner’s or occupier’s failure caused the accident
  • The injury resulted in compensable damages

For an example illustrating the first bullet point, imagine a store owner who allows standing water to sit for hours without cleanup. They have arguably failed to keep their property safe. If a person slips and falls because of this spill, as was the case of a woman in a Walmart in Charleston earlier this year, then the second bullet point is satisfied. 

However, someone who slips and falls but only suffers a bruised ego will not have a claim for compensation. An injury must cause compensable damages for a premises liability claim to be complete. 

Common Premises Liability Situations

A property owner or occupier can be subject to liability under a variety of situations, all of which share the condition of negligence. Common circumstances that lead to personal injury cases based on premises liability include:

  • Slips and falls due to unkempt or slippery walkways or floors
  • Falling objects that were placed negligently
  • Broken steps on stairs
  • Broken or improperly installed railings
  • Unfenced swimming pools, which are particularly dangerous for children
  • Presence of toxic or poisonous gasses, materials, or liquids

If you have been injured under any of these circumstances, your attorney will have to then show that the property owner or possessor failed in their duty to either remedy the danger in a timely manner or provide adequate warning of the peril. 

One strong defense available for property owners or possessors in West Virginia is the Open and Obvious doctrine. Essentially, any dangerous condition on real property that is open, obvious, or known to the injured party does not create civil liability for the owner or possessor of the property. 

Common Damages in Premises Liability Cases

Injuries on another’s property may cause victims to incur high expenses and suffer physical and emotional pain. Suppose that you can show that a property owner or possessor is responsible for your injury. In that case, you may be entitled to collect compensation to cover a variety of damages, including:

  • Expenses related to medical treatment
  • Lost wages in the present and the future
  • Lost earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Long-term care expenses

If an accident results in the death of a loved one, you may be able to file a wrongful death suit, which could allow you to collect further compensation.

What to Do If You Are Harmed on Someone’s Property

If you are injured on another’s premises, your first step should be seeking medical attention. If you are at a place of business, document what you can with your phone and ask the manager to fill out a report. After you have a medical report of your injuries, contact an attorney, who will review and preserve the viability of your case. 

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury on the property of another, then contact a premises liability attorney today. The damages you incur from your injury may qualify you for significant financial compensation to help you put your life back together.

Hewitt and Salvatore, PLLC can help you with your personal injury claim. We serve clients in Fayetteville, WV, and the surrounding areas. Reach out today to learn more.