It may seem a simple matter to collect compensation following a personal injury that takes place on someone else’s property. After all, property owners, including retail stores, have the responsibility to keep their property and land safe for visitors and are liable for any accident that results in an injury. In reality, premises liability claims are far more complex.

A Springfield premises liability lawyer could help you protect your legal rights following an accident. Steven L. Schepps is a dedicated personal injury attorney who could explain the laws that apply to your case, gather evidence of landowner negligence, and demand proper compensation for your losses.

The Duties of Landowners to Visitors

Generally, landowners have a responsibility to keep their premises free of hazards to visitors. However, the extent of this legal duty varies according to a guest’s permission to enter the premises and their reasons for doing so. State law distinguishes three classes of visitors:

  1. Trespassers: People who enter or remain on land without permission. Under state law, property owners must not cause intentional or wanton harm to trespassers.
  2. Licensees: People who enter land for their own benefit. Here, the landowner must warn the guests of any known dangers that they are unlikely to notice.
  3. Invitees: People who enter land for the property owner’s benefit, usually to spend money. Here, the landowner must warn a visitor of all known hazards and must also inspect the land for potential dangers.

A key component of all premises liability cases is whether the property owner’s actions were sufficient to prevent foreseeable harm. This is a question for a jury, and the criteria for reasonableness will be unique for every claim. A premises liability attorney could further clarify the rights of visitors and what evidence is necessary to demonstrate landowner liability for an injury in Springfield.

Premises Liability Cases Include Far More Than Slips and Falls

The classic example of a premises liability case is a slip and fall. However, accidents that occur on another party’s property and result in injury reach far beyond this example.

Structural damages or defects may also make a defendant responsible for a victim’s losses. For instance, if a landowner fails to repair a stair leading into their store and a visitor falls and breaks their leg, this landowner is almost certainly liable.

Other examples of situations where negligence can lead to injuries include:

  • Improper lighting in places people are expected to visit
  • A lack of proper locks or other security features
  • Poor paving in parking lots resulting in potholes
  • Poor security staff in bars or clubs that allows fights to occur
  • Failure to remove ice and snow in a parking lot or sidewalk
  • Inadequate security in stores located in high crime areas

Landowners must take all appropriate steps to protect their guests. This entails much more than just cleaning temporary hazards that may result in slips and falls. A premises liability attorney in Springfield could help to evaluate the facts that led to a plaintiff’s injuries to determine if a landowner’s failure to provide a safe space was a contributing factor.

The Concept of Shared Blame

While it may be true that a landowner was responsible for allowing dangerous conditions to arise, they may allege that a victim’s own actions contributed to their injuries. New Jersey Revised Statute § 2A:15-5.1 says that courts assign fault according to a legal principle known as “modified comparative negligence”. As applied to premises liability cases, a landowner may allege that a victim ignored a warning sign, was wearing improper footwear, or knowingly participated in dangerous activity.

Speak with a Springfield Premises Liability Attorney Now

Anyone who visits someone else’s property has a reasonable expectation of safety. Indeed, if a property owner invites someone to their land for their benefit, the owner must take reasonable steps to prevent harm. This includes checking the land for temporary hazards, actively working to maintain the land, and even providing proper security to prevent crime.

Incidents that involve a failure to meet this duty can give rise to premises liability claims. Plaintiffs in these cases can demand payment of their medical bills, reimbursement for any lost wages, and compensation for any pain or suffering. Don’t allow a negligent landowner’s failure to keep you safe affect your future any more than it already has. Contact a Springfield premises liability lawyer today for a free consultation to discuss your case.