Premises liability

Who Has Superior Knowledge of Danger in Premises Liability Case?

Premises liability cases can be tricky. One of the most challenging issues is proving who had knowledge about the hazard that ultimately caused an injury. Typically, it comes down to who had superior knowledge. In a recent case out of our Nation’s capital, an appellate court considered the effect of the victim’s knowledge of the dangerous condition. The question was whether a plaintiff’s own knowledge of a hazard could preclude his claim against the premises owner. If you find yourself in a similar situation, let our Rogers slip and falls attorney answer your questions. Dangerous home repairs In the Washington, D.C. case, the defendant hired the plaintiff to perform some home repairs. In particular, he was asked to remove a mirror that had been glued to a wooden frame on the wall in the basement. After looking at the mirror, both men agreed that the best way to handle it was to pry the mirror from the wooden boards with a pry bar. However, when the plaintiff attempted to pry the mirror, it broke into several pieces. As the plaintiff was taking the glass shards to the trash, a piece sliced his wrist and severed ligaments. Injured handyman files premises liability suit Following his injuries, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit based on premises liability against the homeowner. He argued that the homeowner was the person who originally hung the mirror and, therefore, should have known that it would potentially break if the plaintiff attempted to remove it from the boards to which it was glued. On the other hand, the homeowner argued that the plaintiff was well aware of the risks inherent in carrying shards of glass. The homeowner did not have superior knowledge of the danger Ultimately, the court determined that both parties had equal knowledge regarding the inherent danger of prying the mirror from the boards and handling the broken glass. Because they had equal knowledge, the plaintiff was precluded from bringing a premises liability case against the homeowner. As the court determined, a plaintiff in a premises liability case must be able to demonstrate that the defendant had “superior knowledge” of the danger that ultimately caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Slip and fall cases can be difficult to prove Clients sometimes ask, “is it really necessary to hire an attorney if it is obvious I slipped and fell in a store?” The reality is, slip and fall cases can be very difficult to prove because fault is not always that obvious. Thousands of individuals are injured each year from slipping or tripping on something in a store or on someone’s property, many of those injuries very serious. Substances on the floor of a store can be very dangerous. Uneven sidewalks or misplaced items can lead to serious injuries, as well. Nevertheless, it can be very difficult to prove all of the elements necessary to establish someone’s responsibility or liability for a slip and fall accident. This article will discuss some of the challenges of proving these types of claims. First, could the accident have been avoided? The first question you should ask yourself if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident is whether the accident could have been avoided. While in most cases, the answer may be yes, there are still some situations where nothing could have been done to avoid the injury. For instance, when a property owner has no knowledge of a dangerous condition before your injuries were sustained, that owner may not be held liable for your fall. A common example is an overnight winter storm that creates icy conditions on the sidewalk in front of a store. If you slip on that sidewalk at 6:00 am before the store has opened and anyone has had the opportunity to observe the condition and remove the ice and snow, then the store owner will likely not be held responsible. If you have questions about proving knowledge, let our Rogers slip and falls attorney help. The duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions Each of us has a responsibility to, not only be aware of our surroundings but also to take steps to avoid dangerous conditions that are obvious or reasonably expected. That does not mean that a property owner does not owe, at least, some duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that his or her property is free from dangerous conditions that could result in a slip and fall injury. Determining whether the steps taken were, in fact, reasonable is where the ability to prove your case can become difficult. The “reasonableness” of a property owner’s actions will be balanced against the care that you were expected to use at the time of the accident. This is why slip and fall cases are not always as straightforward as they seem. How to establish liability for a slip and fall injury There are certain facts that you must be able to establish in order to prove a property owner is liable for your injuries in a slip and fall accident. If you can show that the property owner, or an employee of the property owner, either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition because any other “reasonable” person in his or her position would have known about it and fixed the problem. It must also be shown that the property owner did not, in fact, take steps to fix the dangerous condition. Another way to establish liability is to show that the property owner, or an employee, actually caused or created the dangerous condition. Let our Rogers slip and falls attorney review your potential claim. If you have questions regarding slip-and-fall accidents or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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Personal Injury

Collapsed Stairway Leads to Settlement of Premises Liability Claim

A resident of Connecticut recently received a $375,000 settlement after he fell 10 feet when a stairway collapsed. The stairs were located in the apartment complex where the 57-year-old lived and two stairs collapsed because they were severely rusted. He sustained serious injuries, including a broken kneecap, upper leg and left shoulder. He was standing on the top stairway between the second floor and the third floor when the stairs gave way and he fell. If something like this happens to you, contact our personal injury lawyer. Notice of the defective condition The apartment complex is owned by a New York company. It is reported that at least two other people had fallen from rusty stairs in different locations at the same apartment complex before the victim was injured in this case. It is alleged that, in response to those prior injuries, the property owner only made repairs to the stairs involved, not to all of the rusted stairs in the complex. Nature of damages in this case According to the victim’s claims, he was starting a new job as an emergency medical technician (EMT) but was unable to work because of the severity of his injuries. He continues to have difficulty walking, lifting with his left arm and reaching overhead. He was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following the accident. Ultimately, the victim spent approximately $72,000 in medical expenses. What is a premises liability claim? In premises liability case, the success of the claim depends on whether there was a legal duty the property owner had to keep the premises safe, and whether that duty was breached. Not all injuries that occur on someone else’s property result in liability. The exact nature of a property owner’s legal duty depends on many factors.  Our personal injury lawyer handles these types of claims. What duties does a premises owner have? The duty a property owner owes to someone visiting the property depends on the classification of the visitor. Generally speaking, property owners have a duty to take reasonable care to protect the visitor from known dangerous conditions on the property.  If the owner knew of a condition on his property that would pose an unreasonable risk of harm, which his visitors could not reasonably be expected to recognize, the owner must take reasonable care to either eliminate the danger or warn visitors. Responsibility for injuries on rented property Landlord-tenant law is usually pretty uniform in that the landlord is responsible for everything outside the apartment unit itself.  This would include areas such as entrances, stairways, and hallways.  Landlords are also responsible for immovable objects, such as floors, walls, fixtures and any appliances that were already in the apartment.  Consequently, the tenant is responsible for his or her own things, which are the movable things inside the apartment.  There may be an exception, however, if the tenant knew about a dangerous condition inside the apartment, relating to something immovable, but says nothing, the tenant may be liable along with the landlord. Examples of stairway injury claims Rusted metal stairways are not the only source of dangerous conditions on someone’s premises. Wooden stairs can rot and then give way under the weight of individuals walking on them. Similar to the collapse in this case, that person can suffer serious injuries depending on the distance of the fall. Stairs can also be uneven which can lead to trip-and-fall accidents. Slippery stairs, as a result of rain, snow or ice can result in slip-and-fall accidents, as well. In addition to broken bones, stairway falls often result in head trauma and other types of injuries. Inadequate lighting stairwells can also create a dangerous situation. Pedestrians may not be able to see the defects in a stairwell because of poor lighting. Debris on stairways also poses a danger. If you have questions about an injury you suffered, contact our personal injury lawyer. Responsibility for injuries on commercial property Liability for injuries that occur at an office, store or other business will depend, in part, on what the lease or any other business agreement says about liability issues.  In many cases, the business will have liability insurance coverage that may apply to your claims.  This is why it is important to immediately report any injuries you sustain to the business management, so their insurance carrier can be notified. Is there a situation where no duty is owed? There are exceptions.  If a dangerous condition is “open and obvious,” meaning it is easy to detect, then visitors are normally expected to protect themselves from the danger.  As for trespassers, if the property owner is aware that people are trespassing on the property with regularity, then the owner may be required to take some reasonable action to protect the trespasser as well.  For example, if a property owner knows that people in the neighborhood routinely use their property as a shortcut to the park, then a duty may arise to, at least, post a warning. If you have questions regarding premises liability injuries or any other personal injury matters in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a free consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us toll-free at (888) 433-4861.

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Personal Injury

What if I’m Injured on Someone’s Rental Property?

Slip and fall injuries are quite common, unfortunately. They can occur at a wide variety of locations. One of the most important questions that comes up after a slip and fall injury is who can and should be held responsible for those injuries?  That question can be a little complicated for slip and fall injuries on rental property.  The answer depends on many factors and your Joplin personal injury lawyer can help you figure that out. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident of some type, accident attorneys can help you obtain recovery for your claims.  Knowing which type of accident attorney you need will depend on the type of case you have.   Here are some of the common types of claims handled by a Joplin personal injury lawyer. What is a Slip and Fall Case? This type of case is based on what is referred to as “premises liability.”  The success of the claim depends on whether there was a legal duty the property owner had to keep the premises safe, and whether that duty was breached.  In many cases, a property owner has a duty to keep their premises reasonably safe and free of hazards. Not all injuries that occur on someone else’s property result in liability. The exact nature of a property owner’s legal duty depends on many factors.  A Joplin personal injury lawyer will know which laws apply in your particular case, depending on which state you were in when the injury occurred. Property owner’s liability for negligence Property owners are generally not expected to protect individuals from every conceivable danger. However, if there is evidence of negligence, there may be liability. The concept of negligence is centered around the standard of care the property owner was expected to meet, based on what a reasonable person in the same situation would have done.  To prove negligence, as your Joplin personal injury lawyer can explain, you must first establish that a legal duty to exercise reasonable care existed.  That duty is based who was injured and why that person was on the property at the time of the injury.  Next, it must be shown that the property owner failed to exercise that duty, which resulted in the injuries being claimed. What happens when the owner and occupier of the property are not the same In many cases, the owner of the property is not the same person or entity as the occupier of the property. For instance, the owner of a building may be different from the business renting the building to operate a store.  Perhaps the most common example is rental property. The landlord owns the property, but the person renting the apartment or home is the actual occupier.  How do you determine liability in that case?  This can be a very tricky situation.  The answer will depend on several factors, including the type of property in question, and the type of negligence involved. Who is responsible for injuries on rental property? The rules of legal responsibility for injuries sustained on private residences differ from those occurring on commercial property. With a residence, the rules are fairly simple.  Whether you are a guest at a rented apartment, or the tenant, the party responsible for your injuries is the person responsible for maintaining the area or condition that caused your injuries. As such, the landlord is generally responsible for everything outside of the apartment and all immovable objects in the apartment. This would include hallways, stairways and entrances, as well as floors, walls, fixtures and appliances in the apartment, as long as those appliances originally came with the apartment.  Therefore, the tenant would be responsible for anything movable inside the apartment. Of course, there is an exception when the tenant is aware of a dangerous condition in the apartment, such as a broken floorboard, but does nothing about it and fails to warn the guest. In that situation, both the tenant and the landlord may be liable for any injury to a guest caused by that dangerous condition. Compensatory Damages in Personal Injury Cases In most personal injury cases, the injured party will seek compensation for medical expenses incurred as a result of their injuries. This is the primary component of damages in a personal injury case. Reimbursement for medical treatment typically includes compensation for treatment already received, as well as the estimated costs of any medical care that may be required in the future. Additionally, the injuries suffered can have a substantial impact on the victim’s ability to return to work, either temporarily or permanently. In that case, damages may include future income. Your Joplin personal injury lawyer can help you determine the extent of compensation to which you may be entitled. If you have questions regarding premises liability cases, or any other personal injury issues in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.

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Premises liability

How to Determine the Value of a Premises Liability Case

Most people who are injured while on someone else’s property at least consider filing a lawsuit to recover for their injuries.  Yet, depending on the actual value of your case, it may not always be the best decision.  What you must consider is whether, after it is all said and done, will you end up with sufficient compensation to justify the cost and stress of civil litigation?  If you have a basic understanding of how to determine the value of a premises liability case, it will be easier to make that decision. Can I settle my case instead of going to court? Yes, it is possible in some cases to settle a personal injury case before it is necessary to file a lawsuit, but that does not happen very often.  Typically, the insurance company that gets involved initially, is not willing to offer a reasonable settlement amount.  In order for settlement to work, both parties must recognize that settlement requires a mutually agreeable resolution.  Often the injured party must accept a little less than they believe their claim is worth, and the insurance company must pay more than desired.  In other words, a compromise must be reached. It is usually in the best interest of both parties to settle before trial, simply because of the expense and the inherent risks. Who determines the value of my premises liability case? When a case goes to trial, it is the jury that will ultimately determine how much your case is worth.  The jury will have the task of considering all of your claimed damages, such as medical expenses and lost wages, and deciding how much you should be paid, if the other party is found liable.  There is also the issue of the less tangible damages, such as pain and suffering, which must be determined by the jury as well.  As these decisions are totally within the jury’s discretion, it is nearly impossible to predict the potential value of a case.  Only an educated guess can be made by attorneys, based on their experience with similar cases in the past.  However, every case is different, as is every jury. How strong is your case for liability? The jury’s first duty is to determine whether the person or entity you sued (the defendant) was responsible for your injuries.  The judge will provide the jury with instructions on the law.  In a premises liability case, this would include the duty of care the defendant owed to you.  The jury then determines if the defendant breached that duty.  In other words, the jury will determine whether the property owner properly maintained the property in question, and if not, whether that caused your injuries.  If the evidence establishing the defendant’s liability is not very convincing, the value of your case will likely be lower. The nature of your injuries Not only is the general nature of your injuries an important factor in determining the value of your case, but also how those injuries affect you particularly.  For instance, if you break your ankle falling down a stairwell at an apartment building, the value of your case may be higher if you were employed as an ice skating instructor.  That particular injury had a more serious impact on you, in particular, because of your type of employment. If you have questions regarding case evaluation, or any other premises liability issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Premises liability

Slip and Fall Cases Can be Difficult to Prove

Clients sometimes ask, “is it really necessary to hire an attorney if it is obvious I slipped and fell in a store?”  The reality is, slip and fall cases can be very difficult to prove, because fault is not always that obvious.  Thousands of individuals are injured each year from slipping or tripping on something in a store or on someone’s property, many of those injuries very serious.  Substances on the floor of a store can be very dangerous.  Uneven sidewalks or misplaced items can lead to serious injuries, as well.  Nevertheless, it can be very difficult to prove all of the elements necessary to establish someone’s responsibility or liability for a slip and fall accident.  This article will discuss some of the challenges of proving slip and fall cases. First, could the accident have been avoided? The first question you should ask yourself, if you have been involved in a slip and fall accident, is whether the accident could have been avoided.  While in most cases, the answer may be yes, there are still some situations where nothing could have been done to avoid the injury. For instance, when a property owner has no knowledge of a dangerous condition before your injuries were sustained, that owner may not be held liable for your fall.  A common example is an overnight winter storm that creates icy conditions on the sidewalk in front of a store.  If you slip on that sidewalk at 7:00 am, before the store has opened and anyone has had the opportunity to observe the condition and remove the ice and snow, then the store owner will likely not be held responsible. The duty to maintain reasonably safe conditions Each of us has a responsibility to, not only be aware of our surroundings, but also to take steps to avoid dangerous conditions that are obvious or reasonably expected.  That does not mean that a property owner does not owe, at least, some duty to take reasonable steps to ensure that his or her property is free from dangerous conditions that could result in a slip and fall injury. Determining whether the steps taken were, in fact, reasonable is where the ability to prove your case can become difficult.  The “reasonableness” of a property owner’s actions will be balanced against the care that you were expected to use at the time of the accident.  This is why slip and fall cases are not always as straightforward as they seem. How to establish liability for a slip and fall injury There are certain facts that you must be able to establish in order to prove a property owner is liable for your injuries in a slip and fall accident.  If you can show that the property owner, or an employee of the property owner, either knew or should have known of the dangerous condition, because any other “reasonable” person in his or her position would have known about it and fixed the problem.  It must also be shown that the property owner did not, in fact, take steps to fix the dangerous condition.  Another way to establish liability is to show that the property owner, or an employee, actually caused or created the dangerous condition. If you have questions regarding slip and fall accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Premises liability

Duty of a Store to Keep Sidewalks Clear

Most customers visiting a store never give the condition of the sidewalks a second thought.  We just assume they are safe and well-maintained.  The reality is, a crack in the pavement or a sudden unevenness in the surface can send you sprawling.  Sidewalk injuries can actually result in more serious injuries than you might suspect.  But, what is the duty of a store to keep sidewalks clear?  That answer depends on a few factors. Who is responsible for sidewalk repairs and maintenance? It is ultimately the responsibility of the property owner to maintain, and repair if necessary, the sidewalks adjoining the property.  But, the law is not black and white on this issue.  A property owner is required to repair cracks, uneven pavement and potholes.  The owner is also responsible for removing snow, ice and debris from the sidewalks, as necessary. In some cities, notices may be sent to property owners, in compliance with the city’s regulations, if a dangerous or defective condition exists.  If the owner does not repair the condition, they may be fined. Responsibilities of home and business owners Each city has its own rules and regulations regarding sidewalk maintenance.  Most cities make home and business owners responsible for maintaining the sidewalks adjoining their property. For instance, if you slip on an accumulation of ice in front of a store, the store owner may be liable for your injuries.  If you trip over a neighbor’s bike, left on the sidewalk by their child, the parents may be liable. Liability of municipalities for sidewalk injuries In situations where a sidewalk does not adjoin private property, the appropriate government is generally responsible.  Whether it is the city, state, or county, whichever government agency that controls the sidewalk must take responsibility.  The government is equally responsible for keeping sidewalks safe and free of defects or dangerous conditions that could result in injury. Limitations on liability for sidewalk injuries A property owner is not liable for every caused by a sidewalk defect, however.  The law requires that the property owner be given reasonable time to discover the defect or dangerous condition and eliminate it.  For instance, if there was a severe storm during the night, leaving debris on the sidewalk, and a pedestrian is injured by the debris before the store opens the next morning, the store owner would likely not be held responsible. Exceptions to government liability Municipalities are not treated exactly the same as private citizens when it comes to the responsibility for sidewalks.  Of course, a government authority would be responsible for hundreds or thousands of square feet of sidewalk, making it difficult to maintain surveillance of them all.  As a result, unless the municipality has actual or constructive notice of the defect or dangerous condition, they have no liability.  A written complaint of a citizen would provide actual notice.  Constructive notice means the situation is so obviously dangerous that they should have been addressed. Another exception for government agencies is that, if you are injured, you must file a tort claim with the agency within, normally, 45 days after your injury. Otherwise, your claim may be rejected. If you have questions regarding sidewalk injuries, or any other personal injury issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Premises liability

Visitor Status in Premises Liability Cases

If you have been injured while on someone else’s property, you may be wondering if that property owner can be held liable for compensating you for your injuries?  That all depends on the reason you were visiting that person’s property.  Your visitor status, at the time of your injury, will determine the duty the property owner had in protecting you.  In order to figure out what your visitor status was, you need to consider why you were on the property. Common law classifications of visitors Based on case law in most states, the duty that a landowner owes to someone who enters onto his land depends on the status of the entrant.  There are three basic classifications: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.  The landowner owes a different duty to each of these classifications of visitors. Once the classification or status of the visitor is determined and the duty owed to that visitor has been established, the next question is whether the landowner breached (or failed to fulfill) that duty and, if so, was that breach the proximate cause of the injuries claimed. What is a “licensee?” Unless you are a trespasser, you have a legitimate reason to be on someone’s property.  That makes you either a licensee or an invitee. A licensee is on the property for his or her own purposes or amusement.  For instance, if you are visiting a friend’s house as a guest at a party, you are a licensee.  Though you have been invited and have permission to be on the premises, there is no direct benefit to the landowner. Another example, that may be confusing to some, is the person who enters a store to simple ask directions or use the restroom, but is not there to actually buy anything.  Since his purpose for being in the store is not to benefit the store owner, he is considered a licensee instead of an invitee. What is an “invitee?” On the other hand, an “invitee” has been invited to the premises, specifically for the benefit of the property owner. The most common example is a store customer – someone on the premises with the intention or purpose of buying something. This classification is also divided into two types: business invitee and public invitee.   Again, the distinction is based on the reason for the visit.  A business invitee, obviously, is visiting the store in order to buy a product being sold by the merchant.  However, if the property is available to the public, like a library or playground, then the visitors are classified as public invitees. The general duty owed to visitors In general terms, a property owner has a continuing duty to take reasonable care to protect a visitor from all known dangerous conditions on said property.  If there is a known condition on the property that poses an unreasonable risk of harm, and any visitors to the property would not reasonably be expected to recognize that danger, then the owner is required to take reasonable care to eliminate the danger.  If it cannot be eliminated, then the property owner must warn the visitors of the danger. If you have questions regarding premises liability, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861. To learn more, please download our free Government Immunity from Arkansas Premises Liability here.

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Premises liability

What Duty of Care is Owed to an Invitee?

With the Christmas holidays over, and the mad shopping days behind us, it is very likely that either you, or someone you know, may have been injured in a store. You may have been walking through the mall carefree, when you slipped on something on the floor and fell. Do you file a lawsuit? If so, how do you know whether you actually have a claim? If you were in a store when you were injured, then the most important question is “what duty of care is owed to an invitee?” Our experienced personal injury lawyers will explain.Please don’t hesitate to contact us today for immediate assistance. What Does “Invitee” Mean? The term “invitee” is a legal term that describes an individual that was invited onto someone else’s property by the owner.  If the property is a business, then the invitee is referred to, more specifically, as a business invitee.  If the property is open to the public, like a public park or recreation center, then the invitee is a public invitee.  The term “invitee” is important in premises liability cases, because it signifies the duty that is owed to that particular person if they are injured. Determining Liability for Injuries to a Business Invitee A business invitee is owed the highest degree of care.  If you are a business invitee, you are on the premises for the benefit of the business that owns the property.  In other words, your presence has a positive effect on the owner’s financial status.  As a mall customer, you were invited to the premises with the hope that you will purchase the goods being sold by the store owners. What Duty is Owed Under the Highest Standard of Care? Under the law, a store is required to exercise reasonable care and disclose to its invitees all dangerous conditions of which it has notice.  If the invitee could have reasonably discovered that dangerous condition on his or her own, then there may not be liability. That situation is known as an “open and obvious” danger. Any warning that is given to invitees must allow that person to decide intelligently against the danger, in order to be legally sufficient. If the warning is insufficient, the premises owner may still be held liable for injuries.  The specific facts of each situation are always different.  These variances typically have a significant impact on your case. When is an Invitee not Owed the Highest Duty? There can be a situation where an invitee loses the status of an invitee.  For instance, if someone enters a public park after hours, that person has gone beyond the boundaries of the invitation.  If a store customer goes into an area of the store that is clearly identified as an “employees only” area, he has lost the status of invitee.  In that case, there may be no duty owed. If you have questions regarding business invitees, or any other premises liability issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (800) 364-8305 or send us an online message.

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Premises liability

Elements of Premises Liability for Invitees

You are walking through a store and trip over something in the aisle. Should you file a lawsuit?  If so, who do you sue and what evidence do you need to prove your case?  Liability in a premises liability case depends on why you were on that particular property, and whether the property owner breached the particular duty owed to you.  If you were invited onto the property by the property owner, then you are considered an “invitee.”  The elements of premises liability for invitees serve as an outline of the proof needed to prove your claim.  These elements are pretty straightforward. What is liability based on? The basis for liability in premises liability cases starts with the reason you are on the property.  The reason for your presence determines the relationship between you and the owner of the property, which in turn determines the degree of care you are owed while on the property.  An individual’s status falls into one of three categories: licensee, invitee and trespasser.  There are two types of invitees – business invitees and public invitees.  The distinction between the two is that a business invitee is on the property to conduct some type of business, whereas a public invitee is on property that is open to the public.  A business invitee is owed the highest degree of care. Who is a business invitee specifically? Being categorized as a business invitee means that you are on the premises for a business purpose.  In other words, your purpose for being there will have an effect on the owner’s financial status.  The most obvious example is a store customer.  As a customer, you are invited to the premises with the hope or expectation that you will purchase something from the store owner. A store owes an invitee the highest standard of care.  The legal definition of an invitee, in Missouri, for instance, is “one who enters upon a premises with the express or implied consent of the possessor, and for some purpose of benefit or interest to the possessor or for the mutual benefit of both.” What is required under the highest standard of care? The legal standard states that the store must exercise reasonable care and disclose to all invitees any dangerous conditions which are known to the owner.  There may be no liability if the invitee could reasonably have discovered the dangerous condition.  This type of danger is often referred to as “open and obvious.” Premises owners also have a duty to see that the premises are safe for visitors, or at least determine the condition of the premises in order to provide a warning. A warning is only sufficient if it allows the invitee to decide intelligently against the danger.   Remember that the specific facts of each case are different, and these differences can have a substantial impact on the success of that case. If you have questions regarding business invitees, or any other premises liability issues, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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Premises liability

What to Do When Injured at the Home of a Friend

If you have been injured while visiting at a friend’s house, you have a very difficult decision to make.  What course of action should you take?  Most people typically do not want to file a lawsuit against a friend.  But, on the other hand, if you aren’t able to cover your medical bills on your own, you will have to decide what action to take, if injured at the home of a friend. How do I know if my friend is actually responsible? The extent of a property owner’s liability, for injuries that occur on their property, depends on the status of the person who is injured.  In other words, the reason you were at your friend’s home when you were injured, determines liability.  The term “licensee” refers to someone who has permission from the property owner to be on the property. A licensee is different from an “invitee” (who also has permission) because of the purpose for being on the property.  An invitee is on the premises for the owner’s benefit, such as a store customer.  Whereas, a licensee is there for his or own amusement.  The best example, is a party guest or a family friend.  So, most likely, if you are at a friend’s house, you are there for your own amusement (i.e.., visiting or socializing). What could make my friend liable for my injuries? As a homeowner, your friend would be responsible for an injury caused by a dangerous condition on the premises, if he or she knew about the condition, and knew it posed an unreasonable risk of injury, but did not take reasonable care to either eliminate the danger or warn you about it.  Liability also depends on you being unaware of the dangerous condition before you are injured. Are there exceptions to their liability? Actually, yes.   As a licensee can lose the licensee status and become a trespasser, if the licensee goes beyond the set boundaries established by the property owner. For example, you are visiting your friend for a party in the living room of the home, and the basement door is shut.  Your friend tells all visitors that the basement is off limits.  If you decide to go to the basement, and get injured walking down the stairs, your friend is most likely not responsible for the resulting injuries. How do I recover for my injuries? The best way to handle this delicate situation, is to file a personal injury claim against your friend’s homeowner’s insurance, as opposed to naming your friend in the lawsuit.  Otherwise, you will be responsible for your own medical expenses incurred as a result of your injuries, which can be very expensive if your injury is serious.  Although you are not filing a claim against your friend directly, you may want to discuss with him or her your plans to pursue a claim against their insurance carrier. Premises liability claims, resulting from negligence of a safety hazard, are generally covered by homeowner’s insurance.  This type of claim typically does not affect the homeowner’s financial situation much, as their insurance policy should pay, and their personal assets should not be at issue. If you have questions regarding premises liability, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.

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