In any type of personal injury case, proving negligence is the key to a successful claim for damages caused by the irresponsible actions of others. Premises liability cases are no exception. Premises liability involves any injuries or damages that occur on privately owned property that are the fault of the property owner. Every property owner, landowner, tenant, and business owner in Springfield, Mo., is responsible for keeping their property free of hazards to anyone lawfully present on their property.
If you’ve been injured due to unsafe conditions on another person’s property, it’s good to have a solid understanding of the basics of premises liability laws. Any unsafe conditions on a property may be grounds for a claim made against the owner for any resulting injuries. Some examples of unsafe property conditions include the following:
- Slip and fall accidents – One of the most commonly seen injuries in the country, slip and falls account for more than 8 million emergency room visits each year. They may result in bone fractures, internal damages, spinal cord injuries, brain damage, and possibly death. Older citizens are especially susceptible to slip and fall accidents.
- Poor maintenance of the premises – This may include debris that presents a tripping hazard, failure to remove trash that may risk the health of those nearby, or blocked doorways that create a fire hazard.
- Failure to remove snow and ice – A visitor to a property may suffer a slip and fall due to the owner’s failure to remove the ice or snow in colder climates. Property owners need to clear snow and ice from walkways in a timely manner.
- Defective fixtures or other unsafe artificial conditions – This may include broken doors that do not open properly, defective windows that may slam shut on someone using them, broken or poorly maintained stairwells and handrails, or unsafe structural integrity.
- Negligent security – Any property owner of a hotel, apartment complex, business or other establishment who employs surveillance and security for the safety of their tenants and guests must ensure that security is reasonably maintained. If a person is assaulted on supposedly secure premises, they may be entitled to damages from the property owner.
- Fires – All property owners are required to have a fire safety system. Any injuries caused by burns or smoke inhalation that resulted from a faulty fire alarm system, a lack of extinguishers on the premises, or poorly maintained fire hazards, such as kitchens or cooking fixtures, may result in liability on part of the property owner.
- Amusement park injuries – The owners and operators of amusement parks are required to perform regular maintenance on all their rides and attractions that may injure their guests. They must also ensure that their facilities are well maintained and free of any other hazards.
- Elevator and escalator accidents – Any property owner who has escalators or elevators on their premises must ensure that they are checked regularly for safety and pose no threat to guests who use them.
- Toxic chemicals or fumes – This may include asbestos, carbon monoxide, or Freon leaks. Any fixtures that pose a risk to anyone visiting the property need to be maintained properly and dangerous substances should be removed as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
- Water hazards – Leaks or floods may pose a risk to guests of a property, and owners are required to maintain all their water fixtures properly.
The Property Owner’s Duty of Care
As with any other personal injury claim, the plaintiff must establish that the property owner breached their duty to act with reasonable care in providing safe premises free from potential hazards. The injured party must also be lawfully present on the property, defined as either an invitee (someone with express or implied permission to enter the premises) or a licensee (someone who has permission to be on the property for their own purposes, such as a contractor or salesperson).
Typically, trespassers have a very difficult time claiming damages, since they had no legal reason to be on the property, unless the trespasser happened to be a wandering child. The laws surrounding premises liability claims differ from state to state, so if you have any concerns or questions about Springfield, Mo., premises liability law, get in touch with the experts at Douglas, Haun & Heidemann to start reviewing your case today.