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Each of us will slip, trip or fall at some point in our lives. Sometimes it’s minor incidents, and sometimes it’s serious, life-changing incidents. Under the law, there are specific circumstances in which such an accident is the result of the negligence of another party, and these cases are known as premises liability cases.
Every day I review and discuss cases with clients in the areas of personal injury, which include automobile, motorcycle, trucking, bicycle and other types of transportation related accidents, bites damage, premises liability (slip and fall), sexual abuse and medical issues. malpractice, which includes birth injuries, surgical errors, delays and misdiagnoses of many conditions, and tragic cases of wrongful death.
With respect to premises liability cases, a premises owner is responsible for the inspection, maintenance and repair of his premises. If there is an unsafe or hazardous condition on the property that is not immediately remediable, the owner is also responsible for appropriately notifying others of that condition in the interim, typically with cones, tape or a “wet floor” sign.
However, with this responsibility comes the concept of “notification”, that is, was the owner of the premises informed within a reasonable time of the unsafe or unsafe condition? In other words, if the owner is unaware of the unsafe condition, it may not be reasonable to hold that owner responsible for the subsequent injury at the scene. Did the dangerous condition occur or was it long standing and ignored? Have there been any previous complaints or incidents regarding the unsafe condition?
If the owner of the premises knew or ought to have known through reasonable inspection of the unsafe condition, and failed to repair or warn, then liability should be incurred. Reasonable notice is really a case-by-case analysis. For example, there’s a range of grocery store cases, often referred to as “green bean cases”, that basically look at how long the green bean lasts, or the spill in aisle 9 there, and if more than one period of reasonable time, then the store is liable to a customer who later fell. If a puddle was only on the floor for a few minutes and then a customer fell, that’s probably not long enough to expect the owner to know and clean it up. Often, commercial establishments have maintenance manuals and logbooks that indicate the frequency and degree of detail of premises inspections and repairs performed. If the establishment is not complying with its own policies and procedures, then there may be a strong case for liability.
This is a general overview, and there are other ins and outs in these cases, including compliance with codes, ordinances and regulations, as well as the behavior of the injured party at the time of the incident. Was this person in a hurry, distracted, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, not wearing their glasses? In DC, Maryland and Virginia, a legal doctrine called contributory negligence will likely be raised by the defense, which states that even if the owner of the premises has been negligent in some way, the injured party was also and therefore there is no case. Sometimes the argument is that the unsafe condition was so obvious and obvious that the injured person should have seen it. Again, this is a simplistic explanation and there are other considerations to consider in each case.
In conclusion, every premises liability case is different. The merits of your particular case really depend on very specific facts, as well as location and jurisdiction.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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