Premises Liability / Slip & Fall Accidents
When you visit another person’s property, whether it is someone’s home, business, or land, you expect that the premises is safe for guests.
However, some property owners and occupiers fail to meet the basic standard of care for their visitors, and when someone is injured because of a dangerous condition on the property the owner may be liable for damages.
At Dawson & Albritton, we have helped many clients collect compensation for the injuries they suffered while on the premises of another and can provide you with legal guidance on your premises liability claims.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is a form of personal injury law in North Carolina. Under premises liability law, a property owner or occupier has a duty of care to visitors to keep the premises free of any dangerous or hazardous conditions that may cause the visitors harm.
Property owners and occupiers owe a different standard of care depending on the type of visitor to the premises.
North Carolina differentiates between lawful and unlawful visitors to a property. Lawful visitors are owed a duty of reasonable care to not unnecessarily expose guests to a hazardous condition and to warn lawful guests of any hidden dangers. Failure to inspect the property is not a defense to premises liability. An owner or occupier is liable for any hazard that they knew or should have reasonably known about if they regularly inspected the premises.
For unlawful visitors, otherwise known as trespassers, a property owner or occupier still owes them a duty a care, but the standard is much lower. For unlawful visitors, property owners and occupiers must refrain from willfully harming the trespasser. The most common example of liability for trespassers is when a property owner sets a spring gun or shotgun trap.
They may also be liable to trespassers under the attractive nuisance doctrine, if the trespasser is a minor and they are on the property because the dangerous condition is one that typically attracts children. Common examples of this are an unattended swimming pool, broken playground equipment, or construction sites.
How is Negligence Proved in Premises Liability Cases?
In order to prove that a property owner or occupier was negligent in a premises liability case, the following elements must be proven in court:
- The property owner/occupier owed a duty of care to the visitor
- The property owner/occupier breached that duty of care
- As a direct result of the breach, the visitor was injured
- The visitor suffered actual damages from the injuries
One common example of negligence in a premises liability case is when a visitor slips and falls in a puddle in a grocery store aisle and breaks their wrist.
As a lawful visitor, the grocery store owner owed the visitor a duty of care to not expose the visitor to hazardous conditions or warn of any that exist. The grocery store owner breached that duty of care by failing to warn or clean up the puddle. As a direct result of the breach, the visitor slipped and fell in the puddle. Then, the visitor suffered actual damages in a broken wrist from the accident.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
The window of time you have to file a premises liability lawsuit, otherwise known as the statute of limitations, is smaller than what most people realize. In North Carolina, a person injured in a premises liability slip and fall or other accident has three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for compensation.
After the three years are up, the court can throw out the lawsuit and the victim is barred from collecting damages for their case.
Common Types of Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
Slip, trip, and fall accidents can happen anywhere, but they tend to happen in some establishments and under certain conditions more often than in other places.
Slip and falls often happen in restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, and similar establishments where there are products and considerable traffic to cause dangerous conditions to arise. Trip and falls happen often in stairwells with broken steps or inadequate lighting as well as on sidewalks or other entryways where the ground is cracked. Falls happen more often than people realize in dangerous worksites and in people’s homes.
Other instances of premises liability include injuries resulting from inadequate security, dog bites, improper property maintenance, and failures to warn about hazardous conditions.
Damages for a Premises Liability Lawsuit
Damages for a premises liability lawsuit can include both economic and noneconomic damages for the victim.
Economic damages include compensation for property damage, current and future medical bills, lost wages, and the loss of future income and benefits. Noneconomic damages include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, disability, disfigurement, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
It is important to note that North Carolina is one of the few states that still imposes contributory negligence in premises liability cases. This means that if the property owner or occupier can prove that the victim was even one percent at fault for the accident, they can bar recovery for the victim and not pay a dime. This is why you need an experienced premises liability attorney representing you at every stage of the case.
How Can a Premises Liability Lawyer Help?
An experienced lawyer is critical to the success of a premises liability case in North Carolina. Because of the strict contributory negligence laws, every stage of the case is important to review with an attorney.
Right after the accident, a premises liability lawyer can protect you from the insurance companies and insurers trying to get you to make a statement against your own interest. By hiring a lawyer, the insurance companies are required to go through the attorney for all requests of a statement or settlement negotiations.
An attorney can also make sure that you are being offered a settlement that reflects the full and fair cost of your injuries. If a settlement cannot be reached, a premises liability lawyer can take your case to court and make the best possible arguments for why you deserve compensation for your premises liability claims.
Our attorneys are able to assist you in recovering compensation for any injuries you suffered. To be sure, some related verdicts we have secured include:
- $225,500 to a woman who injured her hip after tripping over a poorly design displayed at a large retail store;
- $26,500 paid to a man after stepping through a defective step leading to his 2nd floor apartment; and
- $77,500 to a client who fell from her wheelchair while descending a ramp not in compliance with the building codes.
Our success is also apparent based on the testimonials we have received from our clients. For example:
“During vacation I had a slip and fall in North Carolina, which is not where I live. In order to pursue a case I had to find an NC lawyer. After much research I called Dawson and Albritton. I talked to Mr. Dawson about my accident and he agreed to represent me. The firm is very professional and thorough. Amanda kept me well informed. When the time came to settle the case Mr. Dawson did a great job! Thank you all!”- Judy Rodenbaugh
Our Office Can Help
If you have been injured on another person’s property in the Greenville area you may have a claim for compensation under premises liability. Call the office or contact us at Dawson & Albritton to schedule a free consultation of your premises liability case with our dedicated slip and fall lawyers today.