Have You Been Injured by a Property Owner’s Negligence?
If you were injured on someone else’s property, were you injured because the owner or operator of the property was negligent? Can you bring a legal claim to recover compensation? When should you contact a Phoenix premises liability lawyer?
Keep reading for the answers to these questions regarding your rights and the injuries that occur on private properties. You could be injured on another person’s property by tripping on an uneven sidewalk, slipping on a wet floor, or in some other accident scenario.
Under Arizona law, homeowners, landlords, and businesses must make sure that their properties are reasonably free of hazards and potential risks to customers, employees, residents, and the public at large. Arizona Appellate Courts have provided guidance on premises liability and the standards business owners and property owners must meet. Here are some of the basics from Arizona Appellate Court case law:
Generally, a business owner “is not [the] insurer of [guests’] safety and is not required at his peril to keep the premises absolutely safe.” Burke v. Ariz. Biltmore Hotel, Inc., 12 Ariz.App. 69, 71, 467 P.2d 781, 783 (1970). However, “a possessor of land `is under an affirmative duty’ to use reasonable care to make the premises safe for use by invitees.” Markowitz v. Ariz. Parks Bd., 146 Ariz. 352, 355, 706 P.2d 364, 367 (1985) (quoting Tribe v. Shell Oil Co., 133 Ariz. 517, 519, 652 P.2d 1040, 1042 (1982)).
Notwithstanding the existence of a duty, a landowner can be relieved of liability if the injury was caused by an open and obvious condition. See, e.g., Daugherty v. Montgomery Ward, 102 Ariz. 267, 270, 428 P.2d 419, 422 (1967)
How Do Property-Related Injuries Happen?
Slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents are the most common accidents that happen on private properties. Slipping or tripping and falling may cause head, back, and neck injuries, brain and spinal cord injuries, contusions, broken bones, and a number of other serious injuries.
Slip-and-fall injuries on private property can be caused by slippery or damp floors, dilapidated or uneven stairs, slippery or cracked sidewalks, potholes, curled-up carpets or rugs, and cluttered aisles or walkways.
Poor lighting often plays a role, and the elderly typically suffer the largest number of slip-and-fall injuries, but slipping and tripping are not the only ways you can be injured on private property. Premises liability cases also include injuries caused by:
- swimming pool accidents
- escalator and elevator malfunctions
- falling merchandise or displays
- runaway shopping carts
When May Injury Victims Recover Compensation?
If a business owner or property owner is negligent, then you may be entitled under Arizona law to recover compensation for your injury-related medical expenses, lost wages, personal pain, suffering, and other damages if:
- You’ve been injured on someone else’s property.
- You’ve been injured because the property’s owner was negligent.
- You and your Phoenix premises liability attorney can prove #1 and #2 above.
If you have been injured because of a property owner’s negligence, ask a premises liability attorney to explain your legal rights and discuss your options for legal action. Call that attorney right away after you have been examined and treated for your injury or injuries.
What Do Premises Liability Statutes Provide?
Reasonably speaking, a property owner cannot possibly prevent all of the conceivable accidents that could occur on his or her property. The law aims to balance the responsibilities of a property owner with a visitor’s duty to know his or her surroundings and to act safely and cautiously.
When a property owner learns about a cracked sidewalk, a leak, or another hazard, several days may be needed to schedule and effect a repair or clean-up. Until then, a prudent property owner should post warning signs and/or block off the hazard with rope, tape, or yellow cones.
All that the law requires of a property owner are “reasonable” measures to maintain a property and keep the premises safe. Thus, if your own premises liability case goes to trial, the court or jury will want answers to these questions:
- Did the owner of the property know about the hazard that injured you?
- Did that owner have a reasonable length of time to schedule a repair or clean-up?
- Was the hazard blocked off or marked with yellow cones or a warning sign?
How Do You Prevail With Your Premises Liability Claim?
If you are injured on someone’s property and you sue the owner for damages, you and your Phoenix premises liability lawyer must be prepared to demonstrate that when you were injured, the property owner or manager knew or should have known of the risk or hazard that injured you but failed to take action.
Property owners in Arizona may not know the specific law, but most property owners generally understand that they are responsible for keeping their properties reasonably free of hazards and risks to visitors.
How Do Property Owners Fight Premises Liability Claims?
Property owners frequently challenge premises liability claims. If you sue the owner of a property to recover damages after you were injured on that person’s property, the owner may offer one or more of the following defenses:
- You trespassed or you entered an area that was not open to the general public.
- You weren’t paying attention to your surroundings.
- The hazard was marked with a warning sign and/or yellow cones, rope, or tape.
- A reasonable person would have noticed and steered clear of the danger.
How Are Premises Liability Claims Resolved?
Most of Arizona’s premises liability cases are settled privately and away from the courtroom. However, if liability for your injury is disputed or if no reasonable settlement is offered in the out-of-court negotiations, your Phoenix premises liability attorney will take your claim to trial.
The deadline or statute of limitations for premises liability claims in Arizona is typically two years from the day you were injured. However, you should contact an Arizona licensed attorney immediately to confirm the applicable statute of limitation. Although there are several narrow exceptions, if you don’t file a lawsuit in a Court of Law within two years, you will likely lose your right to have your case heard and recover compensation in a Court of Law.
After you have been examined and treated for your injury or injuries, call a premises liability lawyer at once. Your attorney should examine the evidence before it deteriorates and question any witnesses while their recollections are still fresh.
Injury lawyers in Arizona typically represent clients on a contingent fee basis. At Moore Injury Law, your initial case evaluation is offered with no cost or obligation, and if you proceed with your claim, you pay no attorney’s fee until and unless your attorney recovers your compensation with a settlement or a trial verdict.
How Do You Choose the Right Premises Liability Attorney?
In or near the Phoenix area, there is no need to search extensively for a premises liability lawyer. Attorney Lewis B. Moore III is a former insurance attorney and a former Arizona Assistant Attorney General.
At Moore Injury Law, he leads a team that has decades of premises liability experience and a reputation for legal excellence. We represent injured negligence victims in the Phoenix area and throughout the State of Arizona.
An attorney at Moore Injury Law will evaluate your claim with no obligation and no cost. You will learn how the law applies in your own case, and you will receive the specific, personalized legal advice that you’ll need to make an informed choice about moving ahead with legal action.
If you proceed with your premises liability claim, Moore Injury Law will fight aggressively and effectively for the compensation you need and the justice you deserve. Learn more – or begin the premises liability process now – by calling Moore Injury Law in Phoenix at 602-780-1616.