Premises liability lawsuits encompass a wide variety of cases when you are on the property of another. If you suffer an injury on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to financial compensation, depending on the circumstances.
Property owners owe a duty of care to those who are on their property, either by invitation or as a licensee. While the law refers to potential defendants as property owners, anyone who controls the property can be legally responsible in a premises liability lawsuit.
Defendants in a premises liability lawsuit could include the following:
- Vacation rental homes
- Retail establishments
- Amusement parks
- Universities and schools
- Local and state governments — although there are some different rules that apply to lawsuits against the government
- Public transit authorities
Types of Premises Liability Cases
Here are some examples of cases that may fall under the heading of premises liability:
- Slip and fall injuries
- Inadequate security
- Patio or deck collapses
- Escalator and elevator accidents
- Hotel accidents
- Parking lot accidents
North Carolina’s Premises Liability Laws Come from Common Law Legal Precedent
The property owner’s legal obligations to those on the land derive from common law as opposed to a statute on the books. Premises liability cases are treated like any other personal injury lawsuit. The legal standard in these cases is negligence. What may be considered negligence depends on both the facts of your situation and legal precedents of how other courts have viewed similar circumstances in the past
A property owner must act as a reasonable owner would under the circumstances. What this means depends on the exact situation. At its core, reasonableness is at the heart of every premises liability case. This legal standard does not mean that the property owner must act perfectly. Instead, it means that they act as a reasonable person would
How Property Owners Uphold Their Duty of Care
Here are some things that an average property owner may do:
- They would periodically inspect their property and fix or warn the public about dangerous circumstances within a reasonable period of time
- They would respond to known dangers by increasing protections for the public
- They would refrain from creating hazardous conditions themselves
- If there was a dangerous condition that they could not immediately fix, they would take steps to warn people of the potential harm — such as cordoning off the area or putting up a “wet floor” sign
Reasonableness either means that the property owner does not do anything wrong, or they respond appropriately when they know or should have known of a danger. Property owners cannot escape liability by claiming ignorance about unsafe conditions. They have a duty to inspect and inquire. If they do not do this at a relatively reasonable interval, they would be legally deemed to know of the unsafe condition.
In every case, you are dealing with an insurance company asking you to prove your claim. You have the burden of proof to show that someone else was negligent in a premises liability case. Without the necessary evidence, you cannot prove that someone else was to blame for your injuries.
Vacation Rental Act
Along the North Carolina coast we have hundreds of thousands of vacationers rent vacation homes throughout the year. Many of these Airbnb, VRBO, and other rental homes are not being properly maintained and have dangerous conditions on the premises.
Our law firm specializes in helping those injured at vacation homes. In North Carolina, the Vacation Rental Act applies to injuries that occur at vacation homes and our attorneys are well versed in the nuances of these laws.
You Can Be Blamed for a Premises Accident and Denied Financial Compensation
North Carolina premises liability law allows the property owner to blame you in whole or part for your injuries. Even if you could show that they were negligent or did something wrong, they could defend themselves by claiming that you were responsible for what happened.
For example, in a slip and fall case, they could claim that you were running or were not looking where you were going. If the defendant can show that you were partially to blame, they could avoid paying you all together, even if they did something wrong. Therefore, it is essential that you have an attorney who can defend you when you have been accused of wrongdoing in your case.
Your Compensation in a Premises Liability Case
Once you are able to prove legal responsibility, North Carolina law entitles you to full compensation for your damages. Your premises liability compensation would include the following:
- The complete cost of your medical care
- Lost wages for time missed from work or a reduction in your earnings capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Embarrassment humiliation
- Emotional distress
- Wrongful death damages if your loved one died in the premises liability accident
In a premises liability case, the law is the law. The insurance company is not the ultimate decision maker, nor are they in a position to enforce any laws. They do not have the final say over your legal rights. Instead, your rights come from North Carolina premises liability law. If the insurance company is unreasonable or they will not pay it all, you can file a lawsuit against the defendant in court and let the jury decide the matter.
Contact a North Carolina Premises Liability Attorney Today
If you have been injured in a premises liability accident, the law firm of Horton & Mendez can help. We are experienced lawyers with a strong track record of getting results for our clients. We understand the complexities of premises liability claims and how to help you build an effective case. The first step in your legal process is contacting us to schedule your free initial consultation.
To speak with an attorney, call us today at (910) 668-8067 or send us a message online.
Premises Liability FAQs
How do I prove that a property owner was negligent?
You must assemble a case by gathering evidence to show their responsibility. The evidence could include witness testimony, pictures of the scene, or video camera footage.
Is it hard to win a slip-and-fall case?
Slip and fall claims are not the easiest to prove because you often lack witnesses, and insurance companies are naturally skeptical.
How long will my premises liability case take?
The length of your case depends on multiple factors, but you should prepare for a lengthy legal process.