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PREMISES LIABILITY

Premises Liability

Duty to Maintain

Property owners have a duty to maintain their property and keep it safe and hazard-free.  North Carolina law imposes this duty on all property owners, public and private.  When a property owner breaches this duty and injuries occur, North Carolina’s premises liability laws entitle the innocent party to be compensated for resulting injuries and damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other losses.  If you have suffered an injury while on someone else’s property and believe you have a premises liability claim, you should contact an experienced premises liability, or “slip-and-fall," attorney right away.

Contributory Negligence

An issue that often arises in premises liability and slip and fall cases is Contributory Negligence. Under current North Carolina law, an injured person is barred from recovery of damages if their own negligence in any way contributed to the accident.  If you are on someone else's property, whether commercial or private, you have a duty to watch out for unsafe or hazardous conditions. If there is evidence that the hazard was open, obvious, and detectable, you may have difficulty recovering damages.  We can help you determine if contributory negligence might be a factor in your case.

Establishing Liability in a Premises Liability Case

There are many different kinds of premises liability cases, including but not limited to the following:

  • Slip and Falls.  There is no end to the number of different ways slip-and-fall injuries can occur.  Slip-and-fall cases frequently arise from accidents such as slipping in a puddle that has not been properly marked or thoroughly cleaned or falling on an uneven surface or a poorly designed staircase.  No matter how slip-and-fall accidents occur, they can cause serious injuries, including broken bones, spinal damage, herniated discs, concussions, and head trauma, all of which require extensive medical care and prolonged recovery.   If you have suffered a slip-and-fall injury, having the skills and assistance of a premises liability attorney may be the only way you can ensure a full and fair recovery for all of your damages.
  • Dog Bites and Injury by Animal.  Property owners and leaseholders have a duty to the public to control animals within their care. Animal attacks can be serious and have long-lasting effects.  If someone’s animal has injured you while on their property, secure the assistance of an experienced premises liability attorney.
  • Assaults.  Many places such as banks, ATMs, shopping centers, hotels, parking decks, and high-risk areas attract predators seeking to benefit through taking advantage of low-budget or nonexistent security measures.  If a property owner fails to adequately protect against foreseeable bad acts by third parties, the property owner can be held liable for any resulting injuries. Such cases can present complex legal issues that require the skills of an experienced premises liability attorney.
  • Defective and unsafe conditions.  Property owners in North Carolina must maintain their property to keep it in a reasonably safe condition.  This duty applies to public entities such as government or municipal owners as well as private owners such as an individual or corporation.  The duty of care also extends to all areas of the property including sidewalks, common areas, lobbies, and staircases. With an experienced premises liability attorney on your side, you can be assured that your claims for recovery are couched in the correct legal theory and that you are proceeding against the proper party for purpose of liability.    

Determining Damages in a Premises Liability Case

After establishing a property owner’s liability in a lawsuit, the injured party can present evidence of damages, both economic and non-economic.  Economic, or “actual,” damages include all damages that can be proven by exhibits or expert testimony, such as medical bills and expenses, lost wages, and future medical care.  Non-economic damages include pain and suffering and punitive damages.

Protecting Your Rights in a Premises Liability Case

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, there are certain measures you can take to make sure your rights are protected.  Establishing a legal claim for premises liability depends on the evidence, and evidence can often disappear in a premises liability matter.  Establishing liability by documenting the property owner’s breach of duty can help your attorney maximize your recovery. Some measures include:

  • Identifying witnesses and/or property managers and recording their contact information, including names and telephone numbers
  • Documenting your injuries and the accident by contacting the police for a police report or by asking property management for an incident report
  • Documenting the accident by taking photographs of the scene, the defective condition, or other hazards

The more you are able to document about your accident and injuries, the better your chances of getting your premises liability case settled without having to file a lawsuit and go to court.  It is very important to be careful what you say to the landowner/storekeeper or any agent of an insurance company that contacts you.  Agents and adjusters are skilled in manipulating responses. It is always best to seek the advice of a lawyer before answering questions.

DeMent Askew & Johnson’s attorneys have the experience to handle any premises liability matter.  While you recover from your injuries, you can rest assured knowing we are at work for you. If we are unable to acquire fair and full settlement in advance of litigation, we are skilled trial lawyers unfettered by the trial process.  Call us today to schedule your free consultation at 919-833-5555.

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