You drive home after work through miserable snow and sleet conditions. You pull into your parking lot and look for a safe path to the front door of your apartment building. The problem is, there isn’t a clear path. Although it was cleared of snow yesterday, the entire lot is icy and as you try to make your way, you fall. Unfortunately, it is a bad fall and you are seriously injured. Will you be able to gain compensation for your injuries? Maybe. This would be a case of premises liability.
Premises liability law generally holds a property owner responsible for damages arising out of an injury resulting from a hazardous condition on the owner’s property. However, there are many factors that impact whether or not you will be able to gain compensation for your injuries, including the property owner’s negligence, statute of limitations, and, in Virginia, contributory negligence.Premises Liability Claims
Slip and falls are the most common of premises liability claims and lawsuits – thousands of people are injured in this type of accident every year. Premises liability means that a property owner has a duty to maintain a safe environment for visitors. This includes properties such as residences, multifamily housing, commercial space, retail and restaurant establishments. Failure to do that may result in lawsuits concerning:
- Poor property maintenance
- Animal and dog bites
- Dangerous conditions
- Improper security
- Swimming pool or hot tub safety
Over the past 40 years, our firm has successfully resolved a wide range of cases in premises liability, involving a negligent storm water retention pond, a dangerous walking bridge, improper golf course design, and many varieties of slip and falls:
- $7.5 million for permanent disability due to dangerous golf course design
- $15 million lifetime care compensation for drowning victim
- $1 million settlement for teenage death due cable strung across road
- $750,000 for deadly slip and fall
- $440,000 for injuries for fall from uneven flooring
- Jury finds no contributory negligence for golf bridge slip and fall
A property owner has a duty to properly maintain their property. To be successful in a premises liability lawsuit, the plaintiff will have to prove that the owner was legally responsible for the injuries suffered on his property, in one of three ways:
- The owner caused the condition that resulted in injury
- The owner of the owner knew of a dangerous condition but did not address it
- The owner should have known of the dangerous condition through reasonable efforts at proper inspection and maintenance.
Virginia is one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence rule in personal injury cases. If the plaintiff is found to be at fault in any way for the accident or injury – even if that fault is less than one percent – then the plaintiff can’t recover any compensation. As a result, defense attorneys will work aggressively to uncover any blame, however minor, that you may have in the injury. The defense may claim that you weren’t paying attention, that the dangerous condition should have been obvious to you, that you weren’t attired properly or that you were in a closed off area. This means that your attorney will need to make a strong case that the property owner’s negligence was the sole cause of the accident and injury.What is the statute of limitations in Virginia?
The premises liability lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of the incident, under Code of Virginia 8.01-243 and 8.01-244.