We assume we’ll be safe when we enter a store, cross the street, visit a neighbor’s home, or take a walk in the park. Unfortunately, that assumption can be dangerous, as any location can prove hazardous in a moment’s notice. Unsafe premises can cause serious injuries, permanent disability, or even death. If you’ve been injured on another person’s property, a West Virginia premises liability lawyer can help.
West Virginia property owners have a legal responsibility to keep their properties safe for visitors. This includes home owners, business owners, construction zone owners, and the cities and counties that own public areas like parks. These responsibilities include landscaping, maintaining safe walkways and stairways, and ensuring that proper lighting and safety features like slip-resistant surfaces and handrails are in place. Roofs, walls, gutters, drains, doorways, etc. must also be properly maintained.
If these responsibilities are not met and a visitor is injured on that property, the owner may be held liable for the injuries that were sustained. This is an area of law called premises liability law. By filing a premises liability lawsuit against the property owner, your family may be able to obtain compensation, often referred to as damages, that can go towards medical bills and other recovery costs, loss of wage costs, and more.
Dangers of Unsafe Properties
West Virginia’s emergency rooms are flooded daily with individuals harmed in accidents that occur due to property owners who are careless or negligent and fail to properly maintain their properties. Slip and fall injuries alone cause nearly nine million people a year to seek medical attention. There are many ways premises liability accidents occur. Here are just a few examples:
- Slips and falls – Slip and fall accidents occur when someone slips, trips, or stumbles, resulting in a serious fall injury. These accidents frequently occur due to unmaintained walkways or stairways, poor lighting conditions, spills that are not cleaned up, or ice, water, or snow that is not properly removed.
- Workplace or industrial accidents.
- Swimming pool accidents that are caused by non-slip-resistant edges, poor lighting, or poorly-maintained walkways.
- Falling equipment, debris (like loose tree branches or roofing tiles), or other objects.
- Defective design or construction of construction sites and related equipment.
- Avalanches, cave-ins, or entrapment in areas where these events can occur.
- Natural gas accidents.
- Criminal activity.
- Dog bite injuries.
Causes of Premises Liability Accidents
Premises liability accidents can occur on private, commercial, or public properties. Any location can become perilous for several reasons, including:
- Faulty design
- Improper maintenance
- Substandard construction
- Lack of necessary safety features including handrails, slip-resistant surfaces, or proper lighting
- Excessive clutter
- Lack of security
- Failure to warn of possible hazards
Premises Liability Lawsuits Can Be Complicated
Premises liability claims can be simple or very complex, depending on the nature of the accident as well as the circumstances behind it. Your attorney will need to prove that your injuries occurred due to the property owner’s negligence or carelessness and that the property owner knew about the hazard or should have and did nothing to fix it or place adequate warnings regarding the hazard.
A property owner is given a reasonable amount of time to fix broken infrastructure, remove dangerous debris, or clean up spills. It’s unreasonable to expect a property owner to fix severe issues immediately. During the time it takes them to make the repairs/perform maintenance, however, they must properly warn visitors about the hazard. This warning can take the form of warning signs, tape, or otherwise preventing entry.
The court will have to determine what is defined as a “reasonable amount of time” regarding your specific case. They will also determine if the property owner should have known about the hazard. Property owners are expected to regularly inspect their properties and ensure everything is in working order. If this expectation was not met, they can potentially be held liable even if they claim they didn’t know about the hazard.
In some cases, liability can be placed on another party. Under some conditions, for example, it’s possible for a building’s subcontractor, builder, or architect to be held liable for injuries that occur. The hazard may be able to be explained by a construction error or defect in a manufactured item.
Get Help from a West Virginia Premises Liability Lawyer Today
Filing a premises liability claim can give you and your family peace of mind as well as compensation that can aid the recovery process. In addition, lawsuits send a message that property owners all over the nation cannot ignore. Owning property is a responsibility that must be taken seriously.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an unsafe location, our law firm is experienced and prepared to assist you in your premises liability case. Contact DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC today to get started with our zealous and sympathetic team.
Our skilled Charleston premises liability attorneys have more than 150 years of combined experience as advocates for those harmed by needlessly precarious locations. We offer a free initial case evaluation for all our new clients. Get in touch today to learn the options available to you.