Elements of a Premises Liability Case in Virginia
By Bill O'Mara, Virginia Premises Liability Attorney
Many of us have slipped and hurt ourselves on a wet floor in a store or ice outside a strip mall. Or maybe we have been hurt by a falling object.
Most people have some knowledge of the law of premises liability that may allow us to sue a building owner, a retailer, a management company or someone else for our injuries. However, the fact someone has been hurt at a business is not necessarily enough to take legal action.
This month we will be looking more closely at the law of premises liability and what can make a successful claim.
Three Things to Look for In a Premises Liability Case
Here are three important elements of a premises liability case:
1 The Duty of Reasonable Care
The person whose premises you are on has to owe you a duty of reasonable care that flows from a relationship between the parties. At one end of the spectrum, if you break into a school late at night and then slip on a wet floor and injure yourself, the school authority has no duty of care to you because you are a trespasser and you would not be successful in suing the school authorities.
If you are an invitee, it’s a different story. An invitee is someone who has been invited to a premises for the benefit of the business such as a shopper in a store or a dinner at a restaurant. The highest duty of reasonable care is owed to an invitee.
There’s a third type of person who is a licensee. A licensee is at a business for his own purposes. A delivery person is a good example. The owner owes a duty of reasonable care to a licensee but it’s not as strong as the duty owed to an invitee.
2 Breach of Duty
Even if a duty has been established, it may not have been breached by a property owner, a manager or a landlord. If you slip on a wet floor and there are prominent warnings around the slippery floor area, the duty is unlikely to have been breached. However, if the signs are hidden round a corner and you slip on a wet area that’s not clearly marked, it’s a different story and you may have grounds for a slip and fall claim.
It’s also necessary to show your injury was caused by the danger on the premises. If you trip on loose carpet on the stairs of a hotel and fall, fail to report your injuries at the time and then make a claim after a car accident, it would be difficult to link your injuries to your fall. Premises liability cases can be difficult to litigate so it’s only really worth pursuing them if you have suffered serious injuries such as broken bones, permanent injuries, spinal injuries, brain injuries or injuries that required surgery. For more details see our book Top 10 Tips If You are Injured At a Store, Hotel or Restaurant in Virginia.
Our premises liability team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers will advise you if you have a case during a free consultation. Call us today at (757) 455-0077.