Lexington Premises Liability LawyerInjury on another's property
If you slipped, fell and injured yourself, or you were the victim of a dog bite or a crime on another party’s property, depending on the circumstances you may be able to maintain a legal action concerning premises liability. It’s an area of personal injury law that covers situations where you go to a location where another party is responsible for your safety, that party acts negligently, and you suffer injuries as a result. Kentucky residents are often victims of negligent property owners and their managers.
There are many different situations that may be the basis for a premises liability case, including,
- Slips and falls
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises
- Defective conditions on the premises
- Inadequate security leading to an injury or assault
- Playground injuries
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents.
These cases all have in common a duty by the owner to protect people on the property and a failure to live up to that duty.
- Dog bite cases fall under premises liability because they involve an unsafe condition on someone’s property (the presence of a potentially dangerous dog).
- If a floor is unsafe because it’s slippery, uneven or poorly maintained and someone slips and falls and is injured, it could be a premises liability case.
For a plaintiff to win this kind of case based on negligence, the injured person must show the property owner or manager (the defendant) failed in its responsibilities concerning the ownership and/or maintenance of the property.
- The defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff to keep him or her safe.
- The defendant failed in that duty and didn’t use reasonable care concerning the property.
- That breach of duty in fact and under the law caused an injury to the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff suffered injuries and damages that, under the law, deserve compensation.
Just because you are injured on another person’s property doesn’t mean you will have a successful premises liability case. In Kentucky, the degree of care a landowner needs to use to protect people on his premises depends on the legal status of the person, i.e., which of these categories the person falls in:
If a person is shopping in a store, even just window-shopping, Kentucky law deems this person an invitee.
- He or she is someone invited to enter one’s property, either expressly or implicitly, for the benefit of that person and the property owner.
- For invitees, landowners have a duty to discover unreasonably dangerous conditions and either correct or warn of them.
- While landowners need not ensure the safety of individuals invited onto their land they must use reasonable care to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition.
A licensee enters a property solely for his own purposes, in which the premises owner has no interest, either business or social. For the licensee, the privilege of entering the premises is extended as a favor by express consent or by general or local custom.
- Landowners have a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly causing injury or from committing active negligence resulting in an injury,
- If the harm caused to the licensee is due to a condition of the property, which is known to the property owner and which he should realize involves an unreasonable risk of harm and has reason to believe that the licensee will not discover the condition or realize the risk, the property owner is liable.
- The premises owner owes the licensee the duty to make the known condition reasonably safe or to warn him of the condition and the risks involved.
- Unlike for the invitee, there’s no obligation by the property owner to discover dangerous conditions.
A trespasser is someone entering another person’s property without the property owner’s permission and for the trespasser’s own purposes.
- He or she has no legal right to be there.
- In most cases, it doesn’t matter whether the trespasser entered the property legally or illegally, with or without a plan to do something illegal once he or she was there.
- The property owner won’t be liable to a trespasser for injuries unless they are caused by intentional, willful, wanton, or reckless conduct by the owner or someone acting for the owner.
A property owner in Kentucky may be held liable for injuries occurring on property he or she doesn’t want people to enter.
- Under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, a property owner is liable for any created or maintained artificial condition which the owner understands, or should understand, creates an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to children who would not be able to comprehend the risk or danger involved.
- An attractive nuisance would be something that’s so interesting that it would entice a child into entering another’s property.
Attractive nuisances can include:
- Swimming pools and fountains
- Machinery (lawnmowers, pumps, electrical equipment)
- Wells and tunnels
- Dangerous animals
- Parked vehicles
- Paths and stairs
- Roofs low enough for children to climb onto.
State courts normally consider these factors when deciding attractive nuisance cases:
- The place is one where the owner knows, or has reason to know, that children are likely to trespass.
- The condition is one which the owner knows, or has reason to know, and which he realizes or should realize, will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily harm to such children.
- The children, because of their age, won’t discover the condition or realize the risk involved in coming upon it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it.
- The usefulness maintaining the condition and the cost of eliminating the danger are slight as compared to the risk to the children involved.
- The property owner doesn’t use reasonable care to eliminate the danger or to protect the children.
In these cases where children are involved, there’s no distinction between invitees, licensees or trespassers. Why a child is on the property isn’t relevant.
Where an injury or death is caused by inadequate security provided by a property owner, Kentucky law recognizes a business owner could be held liable for injuries caused by criminal acts of others, depending on the circumstances.
- The property owner’s act, or failure to act, resulting in the lack of security may be negligent if the party realizes or should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to another person because of the conduct of a third party which is intended to cause harm, even when this conduct is criminal.
- Even an intervening criminal act doesn’t relieve a party of its liability or negligent acts or omissions, when the criminal act is a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the defendant’s negligent act or failure to act.
- This doesn’t mean everyone who falls victim to a crime on another’s property could maintain a lawsuit. A business owner need not guarantee a patron’s safety, and a single criminal incident or sporadic incidents in the area aren’t enough to establish the business should have foreseen the crime.
Often premises liability cases involve the actions of a contractor, such as a company hired to provide security, maintain walkways, remove snow or clean floors. In these cases there may be questions about whether the contractor or the owner is liable, or both. Generally, a property owner who uses an independent contractor is not responsible for the torts or negligence of the independent contractor, though there are exceptions to this rule.
In Kentucky, willful or wanton conduct by the defendant in a premises liability case is considered a form of gross negligence. The willful conduct need not be intentional. A court will look at how outrageous the conduct is, not the defendant’s state of mind. A plaintiff doesn’t have to show ill will toward him or her in particular; it’s enough to show the owner’s indifference to the consequences of his actions.
After finding a failure to use reasonable care and negligence, if wanton or reckless disregard for the lives, safety, or property of others by the defendant is found, it would open the door to punitive damages meant to punish the defendant for its actions and to discourage it, and others, from engaging in the conduct again.
Kentucky is considered a pure comparative negligence state.
That means that a plaintiff in a premises liability action who can show a defendant is responsible for his injury can have his damages award reduced by the percentage of his own culpability for the accident. Frequently defendants blame the plaintiff for the injury, which may or may not be valid, depending on the case.
If you or a loved one has been injured on another party’s property, it’s important you get prompt medical attention and contact our office. The facts of your case are critical to its outcome, and the sooner we learn of your situation, the earlier we can start an investigation. If you suffer such an accident, take pictures or videos of the area, if possible, and note who may have witnessed the accident.
Contrary to what insurance companies would have us believe, premises liability cases and the injuries people can suffer because of them can be very serious. Julie has successfully represented people who have had fractured hips, bleeding on the brain, dislocated shoulders with torn ACL’s, herniated discs and many other serious and permanent injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured on another’s property through no fault of your own, you may have a case. Call us today to see if we can help.