Q: What is premises liability?
“Premises Liability” is what we call cases that involve injury due to the conditions of a physical place. These cases include slip/trip and falls, defective railings, failure to shovel or salt, and sometimes more unusual cases like underage drinking, sexual assault or physical assaults.
Q: What if someone gets injured at a friend’s party?
You always have the right to bring a claim against people who, due to their negligence, have caused harm to you.
The most common issue in premises liability lawsuits is not whether you have the right to bring the claim, but rather, whether the negligent person who was responsible for your injuries would have the resources to pay if you successfully prove your damages. Most people do not have the ability to pay for someone’s serious injuries simply out of their own money. It’s rather that they rely on their insurance coverage to pay any necessary claim.
Consequently, the first question that we address, in the context of someone getting hurt at a friend’s house, is the issue of whether the friend has insurance? That insurance can be homeowners or renters insurance – some kind of liability insurance if they were in some way negligent.
If we find that they have insurance, then bringing a claim against your neighbor for the injuries the party guest suffered due to their host’s negligence is very similar to a car accident case. You deal with an insurance adjuster and with an experienced premises liability lawyer at your side to help you, we can navigate through that often contentious process.
If there is no insurance, unless that neighbor is a person of high net worth, we would need to attach assets and income to pay for the guest’s damages.
Q: What if I wasn’t invited to the party and came without the owner’s permission?
There can be situation where, even if you weren’t expressly invited to the party, that there can be liability. Those claims can be more difficult to make because you need to show that there was a reasonable reason that you believed you had the right to be on the property, or that the property was being held open for your use, or the hazards found on the property were not of the type that reasonable people would expect. So, for example, teenagers may host an open party that everyone who hears about the party on social media felt they could attend, even if they weren’t specifically invited by the host.
If you’re a trespasser, there is a chance that you can recover from an extremely hazardous situation, but those cases are very fact specific and it turns on the jury’s view of the facts involved – what the circumstances were, the nature of the peril, etc.
If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property and you’re not sure whether you have a claim, it’s always a good idea to meet with an experienced premises liability lawyer to evaluate your situation.