Virginia Premises Liability Attorneys
Accidents Caused by Property Defects
All property owners – including the owners of residential, commercial, industrial, government, and public property – must make the property safe for guests, visitors, and patrons. A property owner who does not keep a safe space can be held liable if someone is injured on that property due to an unaddressed defect. Holding a property owner liable, though, is easier said than done.
For all the help you need, come to Reinhardt | Harper | Davis in Virginia. Our premises liability lawyers know the ins and outs of claims and lawsuits filed against negligent property owners. We can help you from start to finish, so you can stay focused on taking care of yourself.
Dial (804) 294-2966 to connect with our legal team today.
Property Owner’s Duty of Care
Property owners owe a duty of care to people who enter their property. The degree of care or precaution owed to each person will depend on their relationship with the property owner.
In general, visitors on someone else’s property can be considered one of the following:
- Invitee: A person who has been invited to a property for business purposes or the sole benefit of the property owner is an invitee. Customers in retail stores and plumbers in a client’s home are two common examples of invitees. Property owners owe the greatest duty of care to invitees, which usually means they must look for and address property hazards before the invitee arrives.
- Licensee: A person who has been invited to a property for a social purpose or their own benefit is a licensee. Visiting friends and door-to-door salespersons are two common examples of licensees. Property owners owe a moderate duty of care to licensees, which usually means they must at least warn the licensee of known hazards when they arrive.
- Trespasser: A person who enters a property unlawfully, without the permission of the owner, or with the intent to commit a crime is a trespasser. Burglars are the most common examples of criminal trespassers. Property owners owe a minimal duty of care to trespassers, which usually means posting signs that warn of an aggressive dog and not leaving an unreasonably dangerous defect on the property where it could likely be accessed by a visitor or stranger.
Property Owner’s Duty to Maintain
A property owner has a duty to maintain their property when an unsafe hazard or defect is found. This duty requires them to address the hazard in a “reasonable” amount of time. What constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time depends on the type of hazard, how dangerous it is, and where it is located.
For example, if the walkway to the front door is uneven, then the property owner should address it as soon as possible to prevent a visitor from tripping. But if a sink is causing a small puddle in a backroom that is only open to employees, then the property owner could arguably decide to fix it at their own leisure.
Different Types of Premises Liability Defects
Our Virginia premises liability attorneys can handle claims that involve all sorts of different property defects. If you were hurt on someone else’s property – whether they were a store owner, commercial property owner, a friend, or a neighbor – you can trust us to make the most of your case.
We can work on premises liability cases that involve these property hazards and more:
- Uneven steps
- Broken sidewalks
- Loose rugs
- Uplifted carpeting
- Slick tile floors
- Liquid spills
- Dimly lit walkways
- Stray cables or wires
- Negligent security measures
- Aggressive dogs
Defense Arguments Against Your Claim
If you bring a premises liability claim against a negligent property owner, then you can be sure that they will defend themselves and their finances. In Virginia, premises liability defendants have an easier time than most because the state has a contributory negligence rule.
Under this liability rule, you can be blocked from getting any compensation if you are even 1% liable for your accident.
To try to put the liability on you, the defendant might use the arguments of:
- Contributory negligence: Under the argument of contributory negligence, the defendant will argue that you contributed to the negligence that caused your injury. For example, the defendant could argue that you distracted yourself and missed a hazard that you otherwise could have noticed and avoided.
- Assumption of risk: The defendant could argue that you knew that there was a risk of injury if you entered the property, yet you entered it anyway. For example, if you visited a neighbor and they warned you that the steps were uneven, then you tripped on those steps, then the neighbor might not be fully liable.
- Lack of notice: The lack of notice defense hinges on the defendant’s inability to know about the hazard in a reasonable amount of time to take care of it. For example, if a shopper spills a juice carton in a grocery store and another shopper slips on it almost immediately, then the grocer might be able to avoid being 100% liable. Again, in Virginia, if you are even 1% liable, then your claim can be shut down.
Filing an Accident Report
You should take many steps after a premises liability accident to start building your claim immediately, like taking pictures and seeking medical attention. One step that is often overlooked is the creation of an accident report. If your accident happened on a commercial property, then you should request an accident report form. This form can be the base of your accident claim and makes it difficult for the defense to argue that your accident never happened or that you are exaggerating.
Get a Free Consultation with Our Firm Now
Understanding your rights after being hurt on someone else’s property can be complicated. Come to Reinhardt | Harper | Davis in Virginia to simplify everything. We can handle your case and pursue the maximum compensation amount for you, even if we have to take a major insurance company to court.