Alabama Law requires that all property managers, property owners, and those controlling or occupying land or property keep their general premises safe to all the people who could frequent or enter their property or establishment. If you or a loved one is injured due to an accident on another person's property, you might be entitled to compensation for the damages you incurred.
The Gadsden premises liability lawyers at Mike Bell Injury Law are ready to evaluate your case and discuss your options. We have decades of combined experience in helping people throughout Alabama to get compensation after being injured through no fault of their own. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers.
Do I Have a Premises Liability Claim?
When you file a premises liability claim, you will have to show that the property manager or owner at fault had a duty of care towards you. This is often straightforward as the property owner is legally required to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition.
When handling premises liability cases, we work to demonstrate that our client was injured and suffered damages as a result of a hazardous condition on the defendant's property. We also demonstrate that the incident was caused by the negligence of the property owner in their duty of care.
Proving negligence in these cases can be quite difficult, which is why it's essential to work with an experienced lawyer who has a comprehensive understanding of not only how the Alabama court system works, but also the premises liability laws in the state.
Mike Bell Injury Law has handled countless premises liability cases, and we offer free initial consultations to all our clients, and you will know whether you have a case in no time.
What are Common Injuries in Premises Liability Cases in Gadsden?
Some of the most common types of accidents we see in Alabama include the following:
- Slipping & falling on a wet surface
- Swimming pool accidents
- Tripping on an uneven surface or unmarked step
- Faulty stairs or railings
- Dog bites and other animal attacks
- Children injured while playing in an unsafe area
- Being hit by a falling object
- Escalator and elevator accidents
- Structural failings that lead to an injury
- Amusement park accidents
- School and playground accidents
- Porch or Balcony collapse
- Dangerous stairways
- Chemicals and toxic fumes on a property
- Injuries from assaults due to inadequate security
Who is Responsible for an Injury in a Premises Liability Case?
According to Alabama law, property owners are responsible for taking care of the property to ensure that the visitors stay reasonably safe from harm. When the property manager or owner fails to do so and a person ends up being injured in their property, they could be held liable for the damages.
However, just because you're hurt on another person's property doesn't necessarily mean that you qualify for compensation. There are a few things you have to prove for your claim to be approved and therefore get a compensation award.
One of the things you need to prove is negligence. This involves proving three elements: duty of care, breach of duty of care, and cause. In other words, you need to prove that the property owner or manager owed you a duty of care, their actions were in breach of that duty, and that the breach was the direct cause of your injuries and/or damages.
What you need to prove will largely depend on the type of premises liability claim. For instance, in slip and fall cases, you will need to establish four facts:
- A dangerous or unsafe condition existed on the property in question
- The manager or owner was aware of the dangerous condition or should have reasonably been aware of it had they been properly taking care of the property
- The owner or manager failed to remove or repair the dangerous condition, and they failed to warn you properly about it.
- The injuries or harm you suffered were a result of the hazardous condition.
Another key area of premises liability law entails lack of security and/or failure to provide security. These typically involve bars, hotels, and other social places that are open even late at night. To be successful in these kinds of cases, the plaintiff has to collect significant evidence to demonstrate a history and/or pattern of the same or similar forms of conduct occurring in the property. Furthermore, they have to show that the property owner or manager knew the event had a likelihood of occurring on the premises.
The “Open and Obvious” Defense
Premises liability cases are some of the most challenging cases to pursue. The property manager, property owner, and/or occupier can typically avail themselves of “open and obvious” defense. In case it's established that the hazardous condition was “open and obvious” to the victim, it can be quite difficult to recover any monetary compensation.
The law places a corresponding responsibility to the visitor to watch where they are going and to avoid the hazardous conditions they can observe and avoid. Collecting evidence and generating facts to overcome the “open and obvious” defense is critically important to ensure the successful pursuit of nearly every premises liability case.
Premises Liability and Three Types of Visitors
Your status as the visitor on the property will also influence your case. Alabama state laws recognize three categories of guests when determining premises liability:
These are people invited onto a property for the benefit of the owner. They include concert-goers, shoppers, or people on a property for a commercial purpose. Property owners/managers have the greatest obligations towards invitees and should take the necessary care and precaution to prevent injuries and warn guests of any existing hazards.
These are people allowed on a given property for no commercial purposes. For instance, your friends and family would be licensees when they visit your home. Property managers and owners generally have a reduced legal duty towards licensees.
Trespassers don't have any legal rights to be on the property. As such, property owners don't have any legal duty to protect trespassers against harm, beyond intentionally or willfully causing harm.
What if My Child is Injured?
As mentioned above, property owners have no legal duty to protect trespassers who have no permission to be on their property. However, Alabama law recognizes a special exception when the trespasser is a child. This is covered under the attractive nuisance doctrine, which refers to a feature or object that is likely to attract children and expose them to a certain risk of injury or death.
It holds property owners liable for injuries to a child trespassing on their property if the following conditions are met:
- The property manager should have known or knew that children could be expected to enter the property
- Children would generally be unlikely to realize the risk of harm or death
- The property manager should've known or knew that there were things on their property that would likely attract children and expose them to an unreasonable risk of harm or death
- The property owner did not take reasonable measure to address the dangerous condition and prevent injuries to children
The attractive nuisance doctrine shifts the responsibility to the property owners to take the right steps to protect children from harm, as they won't always be able to recognize or appreciate the dangers they may encounter.
Each and every potential dangerous condition or hazard must be secured in such a way that no child could possibly enter, or couldn't hurt themselves. For example:
- Unused areas like drained pools should be fenced and locked. The fence should be high enough that a child cannot easily climb it.
- Hazards like an open well or pit should be covered with something that a child cannot lift or open.
- Construction sites should be fenced so that children cannot enter.
Is There a Deadline for Filing a Premises Liability Claim?
Time is of the essence when it comes to premises liability cases, and it's always important to act fast. For starters, there's a two-year statute of limitation in Alabama for personal injury cases, which is why it's essential to start working with an attorney as early as possible after the accident. Secondly, acting fast is critical in premises liability cases, as collecting evidence and finding the witnesses early is essential.
Talk to an Experienced Gadsden Premises Liability Lawyer Today
The Gadsden premises liability accident lawyers at Mike Bell Injury Law have decades of experience in handling these cases and representing clients. We know the Alabama law in this area exceptionally well, and we know what facts can be developed in order to effectively recover full compensation on behalf of the plaintiff.
Our attorneys will listen to your story, ask questions to establish the important facts, and provide you with a knowledgeable opinion about your options and what to do next. If we do believe you have a case, we'll start doing an in-depth investigation to collect evidence on your behalf. When we have more facts at hand, we'll start the insurance process or file a lawsuit. Our aim will always be to obtain the maximum amount of compensation possible on your behalf.
To learn more about how we can help, get in touch with us via our online form or call 256-666-6000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.