Premises Liability Attorneys in Birmingham, AL
If you’ve been injured or a loved one killed due to an accident or series of events on another person’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for damages. If an individual or business owns or occupies a piece of property, they are responsible for maintaining the safe condition of that property at all times. When they fail to do this, and someone is hurt or, worse, loses their life, they could be sued in a personal injury case that claims a breach of duty under premises liability.
If the carelessness of another has caused you injury, it is important that you understand your rights. The experienced Alabama premises liability attorneys at Burge & Burge, PC will advise you of the merits of your case and can fight for the compensation you deserve under the law.
Types of Premises Liability Accidents
The most common type of premises liability accident is a slip and fall or a trip and fall. These types of accidents can occur nearly anywhere, from someone’s home to the lobby of a Fortune 500 company. People slip and fall for a number of reasons that could signal negligence. These include problem staircases, poor lighting, unmarked wet floors, hidden cords, loose or broken flooring or concrete, and unsecured carpet.
Other common types of accidents include:
- Dog bites and dog attacks
- Restaurant accidents
- Snow and ice accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Escalator or elevator accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Water leaks and flooding
- Defective conditions
Other types of premises liability claims might come from exposure to toxic chemicals, defective machinery or construction, or improperly maintained equipment.
Serious Injuries Resulting From Premises Liability
An injury from another’s carelessness can range from minor scrapes to severe trauma to death. Even if you’ve suffered a slip and fall, it’s important that you seek immediate medical attention. Common injuries from these types of accidents include:
- Sprains and strains
- Broken and fractured bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injury
- Wrongful death
How Negligence Can Lead to Premises Liability Injuries
A premises liability claim requires that the injured party prove negligence. Just because you were injured on someone else’s property doesn’t necessarily mean that the business owner or property owner was at fault. Not only do you have to show that the conditions were unsafe, but also that the property owner would have known this and failed to take any action to fix the problem.
We listed the most common types of premises liability claims above, but the ways in which property owners are liable in these cases are many. For example, a dog bit injury could occur because the owner failed to secure their animal even after they knew that the animal was aggressive. An owner of a swimming pool could be found liable for a drowning if they failed to secure the pool with a fence according to local ordinances.
Duty of Care and Premises Liability
In Alabama, your status as the visitor on the property can have an effect on your case. The state recognizes three different categories and levels of care for property visitors:
- Business Invitee– This is a person who comes onto a property for business purposes. For example, you go to the grocery store, a restaurant, or your dentist’s office to do business. The highest degree of care is owed to business invitees. If the property isn’t in safe condition, they must be warned about any dangers.
- Licensees– A licensee is a person who comes onto a property as a guest, either with the express or implied permission of the property owner. There is no business purpose for the visit. For example, you have friends into your home for a birthday party or a relative visits your business for a social call. With licensees, the property owner has a duty to correct any known issues and never intentionally injure a visitor.
- Trespassers– A trespasser is someone who comes onto the property owner’s premises without their knowledge or permission. Property owners aren’t allowed to set traps for trespassers and must warn of known dangers if they find a trespasser on the property. There is also a higher standard of care to protect trespassing children.
What Does “Open & Obvious” Mean in Premises Liability Cases?
Although a property visitor who becomes injured may be able to file a premises liability claim, there is no guarantee that they will be able to recover compensation for their losses. Many owners and their insurers automatically assume that the injured visitor’s case is frivolous, and they will aggressively defend against this type of claim. One of the most common defenses (in a premises liability case) is that the hazard that caused the injury was “open and obvious” to a reasonable person.
Overcoming the Open and Obvious Defense
Winning a premises liability claim in Alabama is inherently difficult, in particular because we are one of a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard. Under contributory negligence, an injured person can be barred from recovering damages if they are found to be even 1% at fault or the underlying accident or event.
In the context of an open and obvious defense in a premises liability case, a defendant might claim that the boxes would have been observed by a reasonable person, but that the plaintiff was distracted by her phone when she tripped over them, for example. If this can be shown, it could disqualify a plaintiff from receiving compensation even if the court does not agree with the open and obvious claim.
Overcoming this and other premises liability defenses is definitely an uphill battle, but it is not impossible. The best argument against this defense is that the hazard was not open and obvious. This can be shown by various pertinent facts and pieces of evidence, such as photos of the hazard and the testimony of witnesses.
In cases like these, it is absolutely critical to get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible, so they can go to work immediately gathering and preserving important evidence. The sooner you retain skilled legal counsel, the better your chances of putting together a strong case that will hold up at trial and upon appeal.
Examples of Premise Liability Cases With Serious Injury
If property owners don’t take the responsibility to keep their premises safe and secure, there is always the possibility that tragedy will strike. In some cases, people are injured at businesses, apartment complexes, hotels, and even retirement homes. A few examples of the types of premises liability injuries that are common include:
- Business owners fail to maintain safe premises with clear aisles. If a customer trips and falls, they will be held liable.
- Retirement homes fail to test critical equipment such as intercoms and fire alarms. If a resident needs immediate help, can’t reach anyone, and is injured, the home could be found at fault.
- Hotels and resorts fail to provide proper security, and a guest is assaulted. The hotel and its management will be held liable for injuries and damages.
Speak With an Experienced Alabama Premises Liability Lawyer
Premises liability cases are complicated because they involve establishing negligence and might require the preservation of evidence. This is why you need an experienced Alabama premises liability attorney on your side from day one.
When we’re injured on someone else’s property, we’re often embarrassed or even feel bad for the property owner. Avoid making statements about fault or minimizing the incident. As a victim of an accident, you might be entitled to damages for medical care, wage replacement, permanent impairment, and pain and suffering.
There are several defenses that the property owner, their insurance company, and their defense counsel will use to try to prove that either conditions were not dangerous or that any defects weren’t “open and obvious” at the time of the accident. If you’ve been injured at a business or on another person’s property in Alabama, our skilled premises liability attorneys can fight to prove your case and secure you just compensation for your injuries. Contact Burge & Burge today at 205-545-8291 or 877-388-3749 to schedule a free consultation.