Legal Guides

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Understanding Negligence in Premises Liability Cases

If you are injured on another’s property due to unsafe conditions, you may have a premises liability case.

Property owners are expected to keep their premises safe for all patrons. When you bring this type of personal injury claim against a property owner, it must be proven that they were negligent in failing to keep you safe from injury.

To establish negligence on behalf of a property owner, a personal injury attorney must prove that:

  • A dangerous or unsafe condition on the property led to your accident.
  • The property owner had prior knowledge of the unsafe condition, whether it was what’s known as “actual” or “constructive” prior knowledge. When a property owner is told about the unsafe condition, this is considered “actual” prior knowledge. When it’s likely that the property owner should have known about the unsafe condition, this is known as “constructive” prior knowledge. For example, if a property owner uses the same staircase every day and it is clear that it needs to be fixed, this would be considered “constructive” prior knowledge.
  • The property owner had sufficient time and opportunity to fix the unsafe or dangerous condition but did not. For example, a property may be covered in ice after a snowstorm. If the storm is still going on, this could be considered an insufficient amount of time and the property owner may not be found negligent. However, if your accident occurred weeks after the snowstorm, this is considerably sufficient time for the property owner to de-ice the premises and make it safe.

So, if you’re in a slip, trip or fall incident on someone else’s property due to unsafe conditions, it’s important you know what you should do in order to help your personal injury attorney build your case:

  • Take photos of the unsafe condition. If you’re in too much pain to take photos, have any witnesses to your incident take them. Make sure you get all witnesses’ names and phone numbers – witness testimony can be vital in building your case.
  • If you’re injured in a store, make sure you fill out an incident report. If you’re able to, take notes on what store employees say.
  • If an employee or employer admits that they’ve had problems in the past with the unsafe condition which caused your incident past, take down their name and phone number and make a note of what they said.
  • Visit a doctor right away to assess your injury. Your injury may be swollen, and it may take time for you to get an actual diagnosis, but the longer you wait between your incident and seeking medical attention, the more difficult it can be to directly attribute your incident to your injury.

These actions can assist your personal injury attorney in building you a strong premises liability case.

Author: Steven Palermo Esq

Palermo Law

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. This article is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to Palermo Law directly.

Published on 13th October 2017
(Last updated 7th May 2021)