Owners and occupiers of property have an obligation to persons lawfully on the property to provide a safe premises. The most common type of unsafe premises personal injury claims involve slip and falls, resulting in injury
An owner or occupier of land has a duty to protect invitees from dangerous conditions and defects on the property. This means the owner/occupier has an obligation to use reasonable care in the management of the premises and to avoid exposing persons to unreasonable risk of harm. The liability of the owner/occupier often largely depends on whether the owner/occupier knew of should have known of the dangerous condition that causes the accident.
“Slip and fall” injuries are the most common form of premises liability cases. Common causes of these injuries are poor lighting, wet floors, torn carpeting, slippery surfaces, falling objects, uneven floors or steps and cracked or uneven sidewalks. Falls caused by these hazards can often result in serious injuries, such as fractured ankles, torn knee ligaments, and head/brains injuries.
Many slip and fall claims involve wet weather, particularly snow and ice. In Virginia, a landowner or occupier has a duty to clear snow and ice from sidewalks, parking lots, and other area accessible to the public within a “reasonable time” after a storm has ended.
Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia are among the minority of jurisdictions in the U.S. where the law bars a recovery of compensation for injuries if the person making the claim can be shown to have been even slightly at fault in causing the accident. This is called the contributory negligence rule, and insurance companies often try to defend slip and fall claims by contending that the injured person should have used greater care to see and avoid the hazardous area where the accident occurred.
If you are injured as a result of dangerous condition on another’s property, you should have the dangerous are or condition photographed as soon as possible. You should also obtain the name and contact information of any witnesses to your accident or the dangerous condition causing the injury, and promptly report the injury and dangerous condition to the owner/occupier of the premises where the accident occurred.
The insurance company for the property where an accident occurred may try to quickly contact anyone injured as a result of the accident, in an effort to obtain a recorded description of the accident and injuries sustained, and to attempt to settle any claims for far below fair value, before the injured person has consulted a lawyer. It is always a bad idea for a person in a premises liability or other accident to talk to the insurance company for the property owner or occupier before they consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
Mr. Ackerman has successfully represented slip and fall victims with severe brain injuries and bone fractures, as well as those who have sustained less severe injuries. If you have been injured as a result of another’s dangerous premises, please call or email Ackerman & Falcon for a free, no-obligation consultation.