What Are a Property Owner’s Obligations to Others?
Property owners must take steps to keep their properties safe for visitors. If you’re injured on someone else’s property because the owner neglected this responsibility, promptly arrange to discuss your options and legal rights with a Silver Spring premises liability attorney.
In Maryland and the District of Columbia, if you’re injured on someone else’s private property because the owner of the property was negligent, you may be entitled under the law to compensation for lost wages, medical bills, personal pain, suffering, and other damages.
Exactly what is a property owner’s obligation or “duty of care” to visitors? What measures should you take if you become injured because of a property owner’s negligence? When should you contact a Silver Spring premises liability lawyer for legal advice and representation?
What is the Duty of Care?
The duty of care is the legal formalization of the implicit and well-established responsibilities we all hold toward one another. Drivers, for example, have a duty of care to others on the road – a duty to drive safely, responsibly, and within the rules of the road.
Homeowners, for example, owe visitors to their homes a duty of care depending on the status of the person on the property. For instance, a person on property may be a trespasser, a licensee, or an invitee. Generally speaking, homeowners must keep their properties reasonably safe, warn their visitors about any known hazards, and avoid creating any situation that could put their visitors at risk.
Those who own business properties may owe a stricter duty of care to employees, clients, contractors, and customers. If the sidewalk is cracked in your front yard, you might tell neighbors and friends to be careful, but a cracked sidewalk on a business property should be repaired promptly if it poses a danger.
What is a Breach of the Duty of Care?
The owner of a property breaches the duty of care when they fail to take reasonable measures to protect customers, employees, and visitors from a dangerous condition, fail to remedy the dangerous condition, or fail to provide an adequate warning of a dangerous condition. For instance, a breach of the duty of care may include a failure to:
- keep a swimming pool area safe by keeping young children from the area
- tell visitors in advance about a dog that may be aggressive
- quickly mop up spills on a supermarket floor
- keep aisles, stairways, and walkways free of hazards and debris
Premises liability laws also seek to balance a property owner’s duty of care with a visitor’s responsibility to be alert and aware of the surroundings. If someone gets hurt by walking into a swimming pool or barbecue pit because that person was looking at a phone, for example, the injured party may be partly at fault. That’s called contributory negligence..
What Does It Take to Prevail With a Premises Liability Claim?
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, and if you believe you were injured because the property owner breached his or her duty of care, schedule a free legal consultation with a Maryland, D.C. and Virginia premises liability attorney.
If you and your lawyer agree to move forward with a premises liability claim, and if you and your lawyer can prove that the property owner’s negligence is the reason you were injured, you may recover compensation for:
- past and future medical expenses;
- past and future lost wages;
- personal pain, suffering, and mental anguish; and
- other related losses and damages.
When is a Property Owner Liable for Injuries?
In a premises liability case in Virginia, Maryland or Washington, D.C., if a property owner could have prevented an injury on his or her property, but did not – even after learning of the hazard and having sufficient time to repair it – the property owner will be considered liable.
Premises liability trials are rare. Most of these injury claims are resolved out-of-court in private negotiations between the lawyers for both sides, but if liability is disputed or if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming privately, your attorney will take your claim to trial.
What Happens at Premises Liability Trials?
At a premises liability trial, you and your attorney must show that your injury was caused by the property owner’s breach of the duty of care. Your attorney will explain how (and to what extent) you were injured and will ask the jurors to order payment of your compensation.
It isn’t easy to prove that a property owner owed and breached a duty of care, but that is only a first step, and it is not enough for a premises liability claim to succeed. Your attorney also must show that the breach of the duty of care was a direct cause of your personal injury.
If an Injury Happens
If you’re injured at a retail location (or another location) and you are asked to complete an accident report, do so quickly. Simply explain what happened, just the bare facts, and do not sign any legal document or insurance document before you consult a Maryland premises liability attorney.
If possible, take photos of the location where you were injured. Ask for the names and contact details of anyone who saw the incident. Seek medical attention immediately, and make and store copies of the test results and medical bills generated by your injury.
Do not speak to the property owner’s insurance company or provide that company with any statement. Instead, refer all calls and questions to your Silver Spring premises liability lawyer. You’ll need to locate a lawyer who has extensive experience handling premises liability claims.
Take Your Premises Liability Case to Goldberg Finnegan
If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, and if the property owner’s negligence was the cause of the injury, you must be advised and represented by a premises liability lawyer who:
- has experience demonstrating how property owners can be negligent;
- knows insurance companies and understands their negotiating tactics;
- understands how to prevail with your claim if your case goes to trial; and
- fights effectively for premises liability injury victims.
The premises liability lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan have recovered millions in compensation for the injured victims of negligence in Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Maryland. We have established a reputation for legal excellence, and our record of success speaks for itself.
We Represent Clients on a Contingent Fee Basis
Because we work on a contingent fee basis, should you bring a premises liability claim against a property owner, you pay no lawyer’s fee to Goldberg Finnegan unless and until we recover your compensation.
To find out more or to begin the legal process, contact the law offices of Goldberg Finnegan at 301-589-2999 for a no-obligation, no-cost case evaluation. If you’ve been injured by another party’s negligence, let us fight on your behalf.