If a hazardous situation on someone else’s property caused you to suffer harm, that person or entity might owe you compensation. However, numerous factors play into whether the property owner or operator has an obligation to keep you safe, and in turn, compensate you for your injuries. By consulting with a Maryland Heights premises liability lawyer, you may better understand the legal avenues available to you and have a greater chance of collecting a just settlement or judgment. Therefore, you should not hesitate to seek legal guidance from well-practiced injury attorney.
Accidents can occur on anyone’s property — residential or commercial, public, or private – making the list of possible, unsafe conditions never-ending. Common causes of premises liability injuries include precarious staircases, escalator and elevator accidents, poorly lit walkways and hallways, spills or debris on floors, exposure to toxic substances, fires, and lack of security.
Much like the instances that could give rise to an unsafe property claim, the potential defendants can also range. In other words, it is not just the property owner who may be liable. Anyone who is in control of the property (e.g., tenant or contractor) may also share the responsibility to keep the location safe. Seasoned premises liability attorneys could help injured parties in the area identify those responsible and hold them accountable.
The fact that a person sustains an injury on someone else’s property does not automatically lead to liability and damages. Whether a legal duty exists to protect guests depends on the property owner or operator’s relationship to the injured party. Missouri law recognizes three categories of visitors – invitees, licenses, and trespassers – with each owed a differing level of care and protection.
The highest level of care belongs to invitees, who enter for the benefit, usually monetarily, of the person or entity in control of the property. Examples of invitees include a swimming pool club member or a grocery store shopper. In these instances, property owners or operators must inspect for possible dangers,
maintain the location, repair any known hazards, and warn of any perils unremedied before invitees arrive, such as posting a sign to notify shoppers of wet flooring.
Licensees come onto the property with permission but for their benefit and enjoy a reduced level of care. One of the most common licensees is a house guest. Licensees may expect that those in charge of the property will address all reasonably known dangers or provide warning of their existence. However, property owners or operators do not have to inspect regularly to discover hazardous conditions for licensees.
The last category is trespassers, and they enter a location without permission. Under Missouri Revised Statutes § 537.351, those in possession of the property do not owe any duty to ensure trespassers’ safety, except to avoid causing harm through intentional or malicious behavior. With the help of a dedicated local lawyer knowledgeable in premises liability, injured persons may deflect attempts by defendants to classify them in a group where a lower level of duty applies.
Under an exception to Missouri’s Sovereign Immunity Law, plaintiffs may recover for injuries incurred on public lands. However, different rules apply for seeking damages when a government entity manages or owns the property. For example, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 82.210 requires that injured parties file notice within 90 days of the incident, a much shorter timeframe than the five years for personal injury cases against private defendants. Furthermore, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.610.3 precludes recovery of punitive damages. Seasoned lawyers in Maryland Heights could help individuals with premises liability claims against the government avoid missteps that might jeopardize obtaining restitution.
Holding someone accountable for failing to maintain a safe property can be complicated without experienced legal guidance. With the various legal principles and nuances that can affect your case’s success, your best option may be to retain a Maryland Heights premises liability lawyer. Our team of hardworking attorneys could help you achieve a favorable outcome. Contact us today for a consultation.