A premises liability lawyer from Bernstein & Poisson can help you seek damages if you got hurt on someone else’s property because of their carelessness. The law imposes certain duties on landowners, including taking reasonable measures to keep their premises safe.
Premises liability encompasses multiple types of harm a person can suffer on someone else’s property. Some examples include:
- Slip and falls
- Trip and falls
- Balcony collapses
- Swimming pool accidents
- Assaults due to negligent security
Many people worry about how they can afford to hire a lawyer. We handle personal injury claims, including premises liability cases, on a contingency-fee-basis.
A contingency fee means that you have no upfront legal fees or out-of-pocket costs. We wait until the end of your case to get paid. We will not get paid until you win. Our fees will come out of your settlement or court award.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Premises Liability Case?
A premises liability lawyer can help you through every stage of the legal process. Immediately after you get hurt, our team can provide guidance about how to preserve evidence and protect your right to compensation.
We Can Work with the Insurance Company to Recover Compensation
Having a lawyer can safeguard you from many tactics the insurance company might use to pay you less money than you deserve. People who settle their own claims without attorneys often find out later that they could have received much more money––but then it is too late.
We can negotiate directly with the at-fault party’s insurance company so that you do not have to deal with their claims adjuster. After we investigate your case, we will determine a fair range for your settlement.
After you authorize us to do so, we will work with the insurer and try to reach an amicable settlement.
If the insurance company refuses to pay a reasonable amount for the harm you suffered, we can file a lawsuit when appropriate. We can take your case all the way to trial and have a judge or jury decide how much compensation you should get.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a Premises Liability Claim?
Every state sets limits on how much time people have to take legal action when they feel someone owes them money, whether due to a personal injury, breach of contract, or another situation.
Per NRS §11.190(4)(e), Nevada only gives you two years from the date of the accident to file a premises liability lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, you could lose the right to go after compensation from the liable party.
Filing a claim with the insurance company and negotiating with their claims adjuster does not satisfy or extend the statute of limitations. You have to actually file a lawsuit with the court before the two years pass.
What Happens When You Go to Court for a Premises Liability Case?
Let’s assume that the insurance company did not offer to pay a reasonable amount for your premises liability claim. You talked with your lawyer and decided to take the negligent party to court.
Upon making this decision, you can expect the following to take place:
Your Lawyer will File Your Case
First, your lawyer will file the initial pleadings. These papers include the petition, required court forms, and service information for the defendant. The petition tells the court who the involved parties are, what happened, and why the defendant should pay you money.
Both Parties will Exchange Information
Both parties will engage in a process called “discovery” before the trial. In this phase, each side tries to find out as much information as they can about the accident. Discovery can include the exchange of documents, written questions called interrogatories, in-person questioning called depositions, and other items.
The court will likely schedule settlement conferences for the judge to provide guidance to both sides about the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. The vast majority of lawsuits file at some point during the pretrial process.
Your Case May Go to Trial
If your case actually goes to trial, your lawyer will call your witnesses first because you are the petitioner. Your lawyer will question witnesses, and the defense lawyer will cross-examine them.
After your attorney finishes presenting all of your evidence, then the defendant’s lawyer will call their witnesses to the stand. The judge can ask questions to anyone at any point during the trial.
A Decision is Made
Sometimes, the judge will make a ruling at the end of the trial, but typically, the judge writes a decision weeks or months after the trial. If you have a jury, they will announce the result after they deliberate.
How Much is the Average Premises Liability Settlement?
There is no average premises liability settlement as each injury and loss is different.
Jack Bernstein and Scott Poisson have more than 60 years of combined experience practicing law. They have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for their personal injury clients.
With their legal team on your side, you will fully understand what your damages are worth and what a fair settlement would look like.
Your Settlement will Depend on the Details of Your Case
Every premises liability claim is unique because every injured person’s experience is different. Let’s say that you got injured at an apartment complex when the balcony you were standing on collapsed.
If there were four people on that balcony and all of you got hurt, your injuries would not be identical. Your medical treatment plan would differ based on the type and severity of your injuries as well as your general health.
Not everyone heals the same. One person might bounce back quicker than another. One person might experience chronic pain for many years, long after the other injured people get back to normal.
Your lost income is another component that we use to calculate the monetary value of your premises liability claim. If you make more money than the other people injured in the accident, this aspect of your injury claim will likely be higher than theirs.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Premises Liability Claim?
The damages you can recover for a premises liability claim include the financial, physical, and emotional losses you experienced because of the accident. There is no flat rate in these cases.
Your financial losses can include:
- Past and future medical bills. Typically, this category includes things like the ambulance, emergency room, doctors’ visits, hospital, surgery, prescription drugs, physical therapy, and other medical goods and services.
- Past lost wages. Your past lost wages cover the paychecks that you missed while you were out of work recuperating. Wages, salary, self-employment, and other types of regular income fall into this section.
- Loss of future earning capacity. This could apply to you if you have to take a lower-paying job or work fewer hours because of your injuries. When people have ongoing impairments after a severe injury, they often struggle to perform their job’s tasks or work as many hours.
- Past and future pain and suffering. Sustaining a significant injury involves pain and suffering. Your claim can account for mental health complications and other related difficulties.
- Past and future mental anguish. Many people experience chronic pain from a traumatic accident. Mental anguish can include distress because of disfigurement and scarring, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic anxiety and depression resulting from the accident.
What Evidence Do I Need to File a Premises Liability Claim?
Here are some pieces of information that our team will use to build your case:
Your Medical Records
One of the most vital pieces of evidence we need when filing a premises liability claim is your medical file. Your medical records will show how badly you got hurt and the treatment your doctor prescribed.
The treatment you had to undergo for your injuries will be evidence of the medical expenses, discomfort, and inconvenience you endured. Your medical records can also be evidence of your prognosis; in other words, what future medical treatment your doctor anticipates and how well your medical team expects you to recuperate.
Your Employment Records
We will use your employment records to establish the amount of income you lost because of the premises liability accident. Lost wages and salary can be recoverable when directly related to the accident.
For self-employed people, we will show their lost income through other documents.
The Police Report
In the event of a premises liability claim due to a lack of security, we can use things like police reports to show that the area had a history of violence and assaults.
For example, if you got attacked in the parking lot of a shopping center that had inadequate lighting and no security personnel, police reports showing previous assaults can provide valuable information for your case.
Can I Sue Someone If I Hurt Myself on Their Private Property?
Yes, you can sue someone if you hurt yourself on their private property as long as the owner’s negligence caused or contributed to your injury. To recover damages, you cannot be more than 50 percent responsible for the accident.
For example, let’s say that a homeowner knew the steps on his deck were broken. If you tripped and fell on those steps, the homeowner would be liable for any injuries.
When a homeowner knows about a hazardous condition and does not take reasonable measures to safeguard guests from harm, they are negligent. When that negligence results in injuries, the homeowner can be liable for a victim’s losses.
What is a Premises Liability Case?
A premises liability case is a legal claim that a person makes against a property owner after getting hurt on their land. The injury must be the result of the landowner’s careless conduct.
A good number of premises liability cases happen on commercial property, but it is possible to have a valid premises liability case against the owner of a private property. Both types of claims involve negligence on the part of the landowner.
You Do Not Need to Prove the Property Owner Had Actual Knowledge of the Hazard
A commercial landowner cannot avoid liability by alleging a lack of personal knowledge of the hazardous condition if they should have known about the danger. For example, if the manager of a grocery store knew about leaking equipment that created slippery floors, the store’s owner can be responsible for the resulting injuries.
Typically, your lawyer will be in contact with the property owner’s liability insurance company to demand payment on your behalf. If negotiations stall, your attorney might file a lawsuit against the landowner.
How Long Does a Premises Liability Claim Take to Settle?
Every personal injury claim, including premises liability claims, is different. Sometimes, the landowner’s insurance company pays the full amount of a claim promptly after it investigates and verifies the facts. In other situations, negotiations can continue for months.
Do Not Settle Your Claim Without Knowing What it is Worth
You should not settle your premises liability case before you complete your medical treatment. You will not know the implications of your condition until your doctor releases you from treatment.
If you settle your premises liability claim too early, you could regret it later. After the insurance company pays your claim, it does not owe you any more money arising out of that incident.
When you work with a premises liability lawyer from Bernstein & Poisson, we can calculate the cost of your losses and advise you on possible settlement offers.
Who Can I Sue in a Premises Liability Lawsuit?
In a premises liability lawsuit, you can sue whoever caused you to suffer harm through their negligence.
For example, if you got hurt in a public place, like a chain grocery store, you could sue the corporation. Even if they do not own the land that the store physically sits on, this does not shield them from liability.
If you were harmed on private property, liability is the same. You can sue the party whose negligence harmed you.
How Can I Prove Negligence in a Premises Liability Case?
The way to prove negligence in a premises liability case will vary, depending on the unique facts of your accident. In general, you will have to prove the following elements, as mandated by the ABA:
- The property owner or manager had an obligation to keep lawful visitors safe.
- The property owner failed to remove hazards or warn others of possible dangers.
- You were harmed because of an avoidable hazard on another party’s property.
- You can show that you have financial, mental, or physical losses because of the incident.
You Can Use Evidence to Prove Negligence in Your Case
You can use the following information to show that you were harmed by negligence:
- Photos of the hazard. You can take photographs of the defective area or have a bystander do so for you.
- Maintenance records. For example, an apartment complex’s maintenance records can show which repairs got done and which ones were neglected. The apartment’s management office should also maintain documentation of repair requests filed by tenants.
- Eyewitness accounts. Sometimes, eyewitnesses can be valuable sources of information about things that happened before the accident, like other shoppers reporting a slick spill on the floor before you got hurt.
Our team will determine what other evidence might be necessary in your case.
When Can I Expect to Get Paid from My Premises Liability Claim?
You can expect to get paid from your premises liability claim after the insurance claim settles or a judge orders the defendant to pay you compensation.
If You Accept a Settlement, it is Final
When you settle your claim, you will have to sign several documents, including papers that release the defendant and the insurance company from paying you more money.
Do not get tricked into thinking that you can accept a quick lowball offer from the claims adjuster and still get more money down the road.
Do Not Accept a Settlement Until You Have Received Maximum Medical Improvement
Even if you later discover that you will have a permanent disability or need future medical intervention, like surgery, you will not get any additional compensation from the defendant or liability insurer. You should not agree to a settlement until you know exactly what the future holds for your injury and recuperation.
Many people experience financial struggles after an injury because they cannot work and have unpaid medical bills. This pressure can cause them to accept a settlement offer that is not in their best interests.
By working with a premises liability lawyer on your case, you will have guidance on whether you should settle your claim or take the negligent party to court.
Does Premises Liability Cover Assault?
Yes, premises liability can cover assault. Let’s look at two examples of situations in which a property owner can be liable for assaults due to inadequate security.
Parking Lot Assaults
Shoppers walking to and from their cars are frequent targets of assault, particularly during the holidays. Shopping centers and other businesses have an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect their patrons from harm.
Bright lights, security cameras, warning signs, and patrols by security guards are a few examples of ways that businesses can protect their shoppers. The specific measures that a company should employ will depend on the individual situation, including crime rates in the area and previous assaults.
People are often at a greater risk of harm in a hotel room than they realize. For example, if a hotel manager knows that the hotel’s keycards can open multiple doors, yet they do nothing about it, the hotel is negligent.
If someone breaks into a room and assaults a guest because of the defective keycards, the hotel is liable.
Does Premises Liability Cover Animal Attacks?
Yes, premises liability can cover animal attacks.
Pets and Premises Liability
When a property owner’s pet attacks a guest, the owner can be liable for any resulting injuries. Let’s say that a homeowner placed his dogs in a dog run while he entertained guests in the backyard.
The homeowner forgot to lock the gate to the dog run. If this negligence allowed the dogs to escape and attack a guest, the homeowner can be liable. The injured person could be held partially responsible for the incident if their behavior led to the attack.
Known Wild Creatures and Premises Liability
A landowner can be responsible, under the theory of premises liability, to people who suffer harm from animals who are not the owner’s pets. Landowners must be conscious of the dangers that pose a threat to their guests.
In Nevada, we have snakes and scorpions. When a property owner is aware that dangerous animals live on the property, they should take reasonable precautions to keep other people from getting hurt.
Failure to do so can make the landowner liable for any resulting damages.
If I Suffer an Injury on Public Property, is the City Liable?
Yes, the city can be liable if you suffer an injury on public property. While liability is not automatic, if your case’s facts meet certain requirements, you might be able to seek damages from a government municipality.
When the city owns property like sidewalks and streets, the city has a responsibility to keep these areas in a reasonably safe condition. When a city’s failure to properly maintain public property causes someone to get hurt, the city could be responsible for the injured party’s losses.
You Could Have a Limited Time to Sue a Government Entity
However, when it comes to suing a government department, keep in mind that you may have shorter filing deadlines when compared to lawsuits filed against individuals. Your premises liability lawyer can explain how long you have to file your potential lawsuit.
They can also handle the process of filing paperwork, talking to government officials, and itemizing your losses.
What is Considered a Hazardous Condition in a Premises Liability Case?
A hazardous condition in a premises liability case is something on someone else’s property that puts you at risk of getting hurt. Leaving a manhole cover removed at night time on a dark sidewalk, for example, is a dangerous condition.
Other examples of hazardous conditions include:
- Poor lighting
- Stairways without rails
- Uneven walkways
- Loose animals
- Unmaintained landscaping
- Debris in a walkway (like broken glass or metal)
- Slippery surfaces (like newly waxed floors)
Hazardous conditions can exist on public, commercial, and private properties.
Young children and those with cognitive disabilities may not be able to understand why some hazards are dangerous. Property owners are expected to foresee any hazard that a reasonable adult would recognize, but others would not.
How Long Does a Hazard Need to be Present for a Property Owner to Be Found Liable?
There is no specified amount of time that a hazard needs to be present for a property owner to be found liable if someone gets harmed by the dangerous condition. The facts of each situation will determine the landowner’s liability.
From the moment that the landowner has actual knowledge of the defect, the property owner has a risk of being liable. The owner needs to take reasonable action within an appropriate amount of time, which will also depend on the circumstances of the specific danger.
If an electrical pole snaps during a thunderstorm, leaving live wires on a wet parking lot outside of a store, it would not be reasonable for the owner to wait even an hour or two to call first responders to protect the public from harm.
In a situation that involves inadequate lighting in the parking lot of the store, it could be reasonable for the owner to hire a lighting contractor to install proper lighting within a couple of days.
What Happens If the Property Owner Says They Didn’t Know About the Danger?
The negligent property owner might say that they did not know about the hazard on their premises. Sometimes this allegation is credible, but sometimes, the owner is merely trying to escape liability.
A landowner who intentionally remains uninformed about problems or refuses to perform routine inspections can be liable under the theory that they should have known about the problem.
For example, a grocery store owner should know that spills are inevitable. They cannot claim to be ignorant of a spill since it is reasonable to expect that one will happen.
What Safety Standards Do Property Owners Have to Have in Place?
In general, property owners have to have reasonable safety standards in place to protect visitors from harm. How the law will define reasonableness will depend on the nature of the property.
Certain properties must adhere to things like:
- Health department regulations
- Building codes
- City ordinances
- Fire marshal safety standards
If the government imposes safety standards on a particular industry, and the owner violated those guidelines, a judge will likely hold that the owner did not have appropriate protections in place.
There are some regulations that apply to any property, regardless of whether it is a public or private space. Sidewalks, entryways, floors, bathrooms, elevators, and stairwells should be clean and free from hazards.
Some Properties Require Security Measures
Safety standards can also address security measures. If a store is in a part of town with high crime rates, a property owner might need to take a higher degree of safety measures to protect visitors. Commercial property in a low crime sector might not need as high a level of security.
On private property, safety standards are generally less than those for commercial or public property. The duty imposed on the individual homeowner will depend on the unique situation present on the property. For example, a home with an inground pool will need a different type of fencing than a house without such a feature.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Premises Liability Case?
Nevada law does not force you to hire a lawyer for your premises liability case; however, it can be a smart decision to get one. The insurance company will be looking for ways to pay you as little as possible.
You do not have to fight a multi-billion-dollar corporation like this by yourself. You can conserve your energy if you have an attorney take care of your legal matters while you rest.
Our Team Can Protect You from the Insurance Company’s Tactics
Claims adjusters love to handle premises liability claims with people who do not have lawyers protecting their legal rights. If you handle your case without a lawyer, the claims adjuster might purposefully delay your case’s progression. They might trick you into accepting a low amount of money or make promises they can’t keep.
Also, the insurer might ask you to give a recorded statement if you try to handle your claim on your own. The adjuster might say that it is your chance to tell your side of the story. However, a recorded statement typically does not benefit you.
In reality, recorded statements benefit the insurance company. Having a premises liability lawyer represent you can protect you from situations like this.
What If I’m Partly at Fault in a Premises Liability Case?
Nevada follows the rule of modified comparative negligence. NRS §41.141 says that as long as the injured party is not more than 50 percent responsible for the accident, they can recover compensation.
Furthermore, if the injured party is found to be partially at fault for what happened, their role in the accident will be assigned a percentage. This percentage will deduct from the recoverable value of their insurance settlement or court award.
Things That Could Make You Partially Responsible for Your Accident
Just because you contributed to your accident does not mean that you are not eligible to recover compensation. Here are some things that could contribute to your percentage of fault for the accident:
- You were wearing inadequate footwear, and you fell.
- You willfully interacted with a dog that you knew was dangerous or aggressive.
- You were on your phone when you fell down a poorly lit stairwell.
- You noticed the hazard that harmed you, but you didn’t get hurt until later on.
- You were not wearing your glasses or using an assistive device that you needed, like a cane.
Our team will investigate your case to gather evidence. We will use our findings to push back against any attempts from the insurance company to pin fault for the accident on you.
What are Some Examples of Dangerous Conditions That Qualify for a Premises Liability Claim?
There is practically no end to the kinds of hazardous conditions that can lead to premises liability claims. A dangerous condition, in its simplest form, is something that puts you at risk of getting harmed while on someone else’s property.
Some examples of hazardous conditions on public property include things like:
- Slippery sidewalks due to rain, snow, or ice
- Uneven pavement on sidewalks, bike paths, or streets
- Negligent security that fails to protect people from robberies or assaults while on public property
- Potholes, slick surfaces, and incorrect grading on city streets
Commercial properties like stores, restaurants, and apartment complexes get sued for premises liability because of conditions like these:
- Inadequate security in parking lots and entryways
- Slick spots on floors that lead to slip and fall injuries
- Tripping hazards in grassy areas
- Structural failures that lead to collapses and fall-throughs
On private property, premises liability claims generally focus on these dangers:
- Dog bites from inadequate restraints
- Pool accidents caused by slippery surfaces
- Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents caused by wet spills, throw rugs, and electrical cords
Whether these examples will constitute dangerous conditions in your situation will depend on where you were when you got hurt.
Will My Premises Liability Case be Settled Out of Court?
We cannot tell whether your premises liability claim will be settled out of court without examining your situation first. However, the ABA says that most personal injury cases are resolved through insurance negotiations. With this information in mind, your case is likely to settle out of court.
Insurance Companies Don’t Always Play by the Rules
Liability insurance companies have a legal obligation to act in good faith when handling valid insurance claims. They do not, however, have a duty to settle every case.
Here are some things to keep in mind while negotiating with insurance companies:
- They may waste time on purpose. Sometimes, the insurance company’s claims adjuster will purposefully prolong a case. They may pretend as though they are negotiating in good faith when really, they are trying to get the statute of limitations to expire on the case.
- Negotiating does not extend the statute of limitations. Negotiating with the adjuster does not extend the two-year limit you have for filing a premises liability lawsuit. If you miss the deadline, the insurance company may have no obligation to pay your claim.
- You do not have to accept a low settlement offer. If the insurance company keeps offering you low amounts of money, you do not have to accept these offers. You can keep negotiating or file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
As noted, most personal injury cases get settled without having to go to trial. At any point before or even during the trial, it is possible to reach an agreement and resolve the case.
What Should I Do After Injuring Myself on Someone Else’s Property?
The first thing you should do after injuring yourself on someone else’s property is to get medical attention. If you have not already done so before reading this information, you need to get medical care right away.
There is a risk of infection, internal bleeding, hidden injuries, and other complications if you do not get professional medical treatment. Also, your medical records will provide an essential link between the accident and your injuries.
The more time that passes between your accident and getting medical attention, the more difficult it will be to prove a connection between the incident and the harm you suffered.
Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
Make sure that you complete the full treatment plan that your doctor prescribes unless there is a good reason, such as an allergic reaction to a prescription drug. In that event, get immediate medical care and call your doctor to modify your treatment plan.
Complete Your Course of Therapy
If you skip some of your prescribed therapy, the defendant might argue that you did not take proper care of your injuries and should get less money. You do not want to give the defense an excuse to pay you less money than you deserve.
As soon as reasonably possible after you get initial medical care, you can protect your legal rights by talking with a premises liability lawyer. Having our team represent your claim can protect you against any tactics that delay the claims process.
Should I Accept a Cash Settlement from the Insurance Company Adjuster for My Premises Liability Injury?
The point at which you should settle your premises liability injury claim will depend on the facts of your situation. Every premises liability injury claim is different.
Your premises liability lawyer will provide guidance on whether you should accept a settlement offer from the insurance company’s claims adjuster. However, the ultimate decision is yours to make. When you do settle the case, the adjuster will send a check to your lawyer, who will disburse the proceeds.
Do Not Accept a Settlement Without Running It by Us First
We cannot stress enough how important it is that you do not accept a lowball offer or settle your case too early. Unless you work in the liability insurance industry or in a personal injury law office, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for you to know the true monetary value of your claim.
The claims adjuster knows how much your case is worth and how much authority he has from his boss to settle your claim. When you do not know how much something is worth, and the person on the other side has a precise calculation regarding an expense, you are at a disadvantage in negotiations.
Connect with the Attorneys at Our Law Office Today
At Bernstein & Poisson, our passion is to help people who get injured because of the carelessness of others. Someone else’s negligence on their property should not destroy your financial security.
Premises liability injury claims involve multiple complex legal issues. We are happy to perform your case evaluation at no cost or obligation. If we take your case, you will get to focus on your health and well-being while we take care of your legal matters.
If you were injured on another party’s property in Las Vegas or the surrounding area, do not hesitate to give us a call. You can call today for your free consultation.