We count on property owners, occupiers, and managers to make sure that staircases are well-maintained, slippery spills are cleaned up in a timely manner, and uneven flooring is addressed or well-marked to prevent a fall. When a property owner or other responsible party fails to meet their legal duties and someone gets hurt, accident victims have the right to demand compensation for their injuries. These cases are known as premises liability claims.
The Decatur premises liability lawyers at Morris, King & Hodge, P.C., have a deep understanding of Alabama personal injury law. We are prepared to fight aggressively to seek the compensation you deserve. We’ve recovered more than $125 million for our clients and have earned widespread recognition in the local community, including an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
If you were injured as a result of a hazard on someone else’s property in Decatur or surrounding areas of Alabama, don’t hesitate to learn about your legal options by talking to a premises liability lawyer. Get a free initial consultation by calling our Decatur office or visiting our contact page.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is an area of law concerning the duty owed by property owners to tenants, visitors, customers, and other guests. Property owners have certain legal obligations to maintain reasonably safe premises to prevent harm from coming to people on the property. If a property owner fails to meet these obligations and someone gets hurt as a result, the injured party may be able to file a claim to pursue compensation for their injuries.
Unsafe property conditions, on their own, do not necessarily provide grounds for a premises liability case. There are various factors you must prove, depending on the circumstances of your accident, in order to pursue an injury claim or lawsuit.
Premises Liability Statistics
There are many different kinds of injuries that happen in premises liability cases. Some of the most common are slip-and-fall accidents and trip-and-fall accidents. For example, someone may slip on a patch of ice on someone’s property or trip over a loose electrical cord.
Fall injuries are shockingly common in Alabama and throughout the United States. One report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows there were 39,443 deaths from falls nationwide in just one year.
Another CDC report says there were more than 10.5 million emergency room visits related to fall injuries across the country in a single year. Many of these could have been prevented if property owners did a better job of maintaining their facilities.
Decatur Premises Liability Laws
Alabama law spells out what responsibilities property owners have toward people who enter their property. Their duty of care depends on the relationship between the person on the property and the property owner. It breaks down like this:
- Invitees – An invitee is someone invited by the property owner onto a property, such as a customer of a business, rental tenants, or hotel guests. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They must make active checks of common areas to find potential hazards to protect invitees, and they must post warning signs about these hazards. They should also attempt to rectify the hazard as quickly as possible.
- Licensees – Licensees are individuals who enter a property for their own purposes, such as a friend or family member who’s visiting someone’s home or a salesperson making a business visit. Property owners are required to post warnings about known hazards. However, property owners do not have to make active checks of their property to protect licensees from harm.
- Trespassers – Property owners have a minimal duty of care toward anyone who is on their property illegally or without permission. Property owners can be held liable only for intentional injuries to trespassers. The major exception to this rule is children. Property owners need to be careful to protect children from accidental injuries due to “attractive nuisances,” such as swimming pools.
One complicating factor in Alabama premises liability cases is the state’s doctrine for determining fault in personal injury cases. Alabama uses a strict contributory negligence standard for these claims. This means injured people can be barred from receiving compensation if they played any role in causing the accident. This strict standard is one reason why getting an experienced lawyer is so crucial.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability claims cover a wide range of injuries. Some of the most common cases we handle at our firm include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Trip-and-fall accidents
- Broken sidewalks
- Poorly maintained parking lots
- Loose or exposed electrical cords
- Poorly maintained stairs
- Broken guardrails or handrails
- Loose carpeting or tiles
- Dog bites
- Unsecured swimming pools
- Inadequate lighting
- Negligent security
- Merchandise protruding from or falling off the shelves of a business
Proving Negligence in Premises Liability Claims
Establishing fault is crucial in any Alabama premises liability claims. Some evidence you can use to support your case includes:
- Accident reports
- Eyewitness testimony
- Medical records
- Surveillance footage
- Testimony from expert witnesses
- Property records
Since Alabama uses a strict contributory negligence standard in premises liability claims, you could be blocked from receiving any compensation if it can be shown you were at all to blame for an accident.
Compensation in a Premises Liability Claim
Because premises liability cases can result in extensive injuries, accident victims have the right to pursue compensation for the economic and non-economic harm they’ve endured due to the accident. This may include things like:
- Lost wages
- Reduced ability to work due to a disabling injury
- Medical bills as a result of the accident
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Statute of Limitations on Premises Liability Claims in Alabama
If you wish to file a premises liability claim in Alabama, you need to make sure you do so before the statute of limitations runs out. Otherwise, you may lose out on your chance to recover any compensation for your injuries.
The statute of limitations – or filing deadline – for these cases is two years from the date of your injury. Only rare and narrow exceptions could extend the deadline. You should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible so they can begin working on your claim.
Contact a Decatur Premises Liability Attorney Today
A premises liability injury can leave you in agonizing pain and unable to work for a long period, completely upending your life. To give yourself the best shot at putting your life back together, contact our Decatur premises liability attorneys today.