It’s all too easy to trip and fall as you go about your daily life. In some cases, falling down is just a matter of bad luck. But sometimes, these accidents are caused by a dangerous condition – like broken tile, a spill that wasn’t properly cleaned up, or even an icy sidewalk.
In West Virginia, property owners and occupiers have a duty to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition. If you get hurt on someone else’s property, then you could file a premises liability claim against them. Through this type of personal injury lawsuit, you may be able to recover financial compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses.
At Johnstone & Gabhart, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injury victims in West Virginia. We offer free initial consultations to all prospective clients, and never charge a fee unless we get money for you. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help you after a slip and fall, dog bite, or other accident.
When Can I File a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
A premises liability claim is a special type of personal injury lawsuit. In essence, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit when you are injured on another person’s property. These claims are based on the idea that a property owner has a duty to maintain their property, which may include repairing or warning others of known hazards.
However, West Virginia premises liability law distinguishes between different types of visitors to a property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. In other words, your ability to file a lawsuit against the property owner will be based, in part, on the reason why you were there.
An invitee is someone who has an express or implied invitation to enter the property, such as customers in a grocery store. Property owners owe invitees the greatest duty of care. They must inspect their property regularly, fix known hazards in a timely manner, and warn visitors of any existing dangerous conditions.
A licensee is a person who has consent to be on a property but who is visiting for a reason other than doing business. An example of a licensee is a friend who is invited to your house for dinner. Property owners have the same duty to fix and/or warn of dangerous conditions but are not required to inspect their property for licensees.
Finally, a trespasser is someone who enters a home, building, or piece of land without the owner’s permission. Property owners do not owe any duty of care to trespassers, with one exception. If the property contains an “attractive nuisance” (something that is both attractive and potentially dangerous to a child, like a swimming pool), the owner must guard against reasonably foreseeable injuries.
Your status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser will often determine your ability to file a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner. If you are unsure of your rights, a seasoned Charleston, WV premises liability lawyer can help you understand what type of visitor you were – and whether you can file a lawsuit against the property owner.
Who Can I Sue for a Slip and Fall Accident?
If you are hurt on someone else’s property, you could potentially file a premises liability claim against them. This claim will typically be handled by their insurance company through a homeowner’s, renter’s, or commercial insurance policy.
Many premises liability claims are straightforward: you fall at a store or at someone’s house, and you seek damages from the owner of the property. However, there are some situations that may be more complicated – such as if you fall down the stairs at an apartment complex.
Depending on the facts of the case, you may be able to file a lawsuit against:
- The property owner
- A tenant
- The landlord
- A property management company
- A government entity (such as a city that failed to maintain a public sidewalk)
If you are hurt in an accident on someone else’s property, don’t assume that there is nothing you can do about it. With the help of an experienced Charleston, West Virginia premises liability lawyer, you could file a lawsuit and get full compensation for your losses.
Seeking Damages For Injury Victims
Our attorneys have worked to obtain the compensation and accountability our clients have deserved when they have been injured due to:
- Stairway and handrail defects
- Walkway and pothole issues
- Injuries in supermarkets, retail stores, and parking lots
- Animal attacks/dog bite injury cases
- Inadequate security or safety measures
If you or someone close to you has been injured because of a dangerous condition on the premises, it is extremely important to inform yourself of your rights. In cases involving commercial premises, it is not uncommon for employees or management to attempt to collect information they will use against a potentially injured plaintiff who seeks to file suit. You need someone looking out for your rights and well-being. We are prepared to do precisely that.
Through a claim, you could recover compensation for all of your losses. This may include both direct financial losses (economic damages) and intangible losses (noneconomic damages). If the property owner acted intentionally or recklessly, you may even be able to seek punitive damages.
Damages in a premises liability case may include:
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
The best way to get full compensation for your injuries is to reach out to an experienced Charleston, WV slip and fall lawyer as soon as possible.
When Should I Hire a Premises Liability Attorney?
After a slip and fall, trip and fall, or another type of accident, you may be approached by an insurance adjuster. They may ask you to make a statement, sign some paperwork, or even offer you a settlement. While you might want to take the check so that you can move forward with your life, this is rarely a good idea.
Insurance companies are in business to make money. One of the ways that they do this is by paying out as little as possible on legitimate claims. In short, insurers do not have your best interests at heart. Any settlement offer that they make to you before you have had a chance to talk to an attorney will almost certainly be a lowball offer.
By contrast, a personal injury lawyer is duty-bound to represent your best interests and to help you get the best possible outcome for your claim. Studies show that people who are represented by counsel recover an average of 40% more than people who represent themselves in personal injury claims.
Premises liability law firms handle cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that you don’t pay anything upfront, and only pay a fee if they recover money for you. Contingency fee arrangements also align the interests of the attorney and client: both parties want to resolve the case for as much money as possible and as quickly as possible.
Ultimately, your best chance of getting a fair settlement for your injuries is to hire a seasoned premises liability attorney. In Charleson, WV, reach out to Johnstone & Gabhart today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team.
Can I Still File a Premises Liability Lawsuit If I Saw the Dangerous Condition?
Probably not. West Virginia law states that property owners do not have a duty to protect visitors from open and obvious dangers. For example, if you see a large ditch on someone’s property, with a huge mound of dirt beside it, and still manage to fall into it, then the property owner will probably argue that they cannot be held liable for your injuries.
Of course, many cases are not so clear-cut – such as an uneven step that is painted yellow but might be easy to miss when it is dark. A Charleston, WV premises liability attorney can work with you to help you determine whether you can file a lawsuit for your injuries. Reach out to Johnstone & Gabhart for a free consultation.
I Was Hurt at a Family Member’s House. Can I Really File a Lawsuit Against Them?
Slip and fall accidents can happen anywhere – including at a loved one’s home. It’s important to remember that you won’t be suing your friend or family member. You will be filing a claim with their insurance company. Your family member pays for homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance for a reason – for situations just like this.
A skilled WV premises liability lawyer can often negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company without ever needing to file a lawsuit. This is often the only way to get the compensation that you need for your injuries.
What If I Was Partially at Fault for My Slip and Fall?
Sometimes, trip and falls happen because of a combination of hazardous conditions and a person not paying enough attention to where they are going. In this situation, you can probably still file a claim to recover compensation for your injuries. West Virginia follows the comparative negligence rule, which means that as long as you were 50% or less at fault for the accident, you can still recover.
These cases can be more complex than a typical slip and fall lawsuit. If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, give Johnstone & Gabhart a call. Our team of personal injury lawyers has extensive experience handling all types of injury claims, including premises liability accidents.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
Being hurt in any type of accident can be incredibly traumatic. For most people, dealing with the paperwork and bureaucracy afterward is overwhelming. Our law firm will fight for you.
Based in Charleston, Johnstone & Gabhart represents injury victims throughout West Virginia. We have more than 50 years of experience handling WV personal injury claims, and a track record of success. To learn more or to schedule a free initial consultation with a Charleston premises liability lawyer, give our law office a call at 304-343-7100 or fill out our online contact form.