The law of premises liability can cause an owner or occupier of real estate to be responsible for injuries suffered by people who are on that property and get injured. Premises liability is almost always controlled by the law of negligence, and it’s usually seen in the context of injuries resulting from dangerous conditions on property that aren’t remedied or warned of.
The owner or occupier who controls property owes a duty of care to those who come onto the premises. That duty depends on the legal status of the person claiming injury. The legal status of claimants might be:
- Invitees who come onto the property for legitimate business purpose
- Licensees who are usually social guests
- Trespassers who have no legal right to be on the premises
The duty to invitees
Those who own or occupy a premises have a duty to maintain the property they control in a reasonably safe condition for invitees. They must warn invitees of any hidden dangers.
The duty to licensees
Owners and occupiers of real estate need only share knowledge of a dangerous condition or activity on the property with licensees.
The duty to trespassers
In the context of trespassers, the owner or occupier’s duty is to refrain from intentional or willful and wanton conduct that causes injury.
If the owner or occupier breaches the applicable duty, and an invitee, licensee or trespasser is injured on the property, the owner or occupier could be liable for damages. He or she isn’t the guarantor of the safety of all people who come onto the premises though. The owner or occupier can only be held liable for those conditions that he or she knew, or with the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have known about. That rule also applies to the exterior of any premises that they are in possession of.
The attractive nuisance doctrine is an exception to the rule regarding the duty owed to trespassers. In Idaho, it applies exclusively to children who don’t understand the dangers or risks involved with the condition and were attracted onto a premises by a dangerous object or condition. Common attractive nuisances might be swimming pools or trampolines without proper barriers. Owners and occupiers of land must use reasonable care to protect children from attractive nuisances on their property.
Idaho encourages owners of land to make their property available for recreational purposes. Title 36 Chapter 16 section 36-1604 of the Idaho Statutes specifically protects landowners from any liability whatsoever when they make their land available to the general public for recreational purposes. So long as no fee is charged for using it, the public need not be warned of any dangerous conditions on the property.
In order to prove that an owner or occupier of land was negligent, the injured party must prove certain elements. Those are that:
- The landlord owed him or her a duty
- There was a breach of that duty
- The breach of the duty caused the claimant’s injuries
- He or she suffered legally recognized damages
Failure to prove any one of those elements will cause a case to fail in its entirety.
Common premises liability accidents
The most common premises liability accidents involve slip and falls and trip and falls in residences and commercial properties. Other common premises liability accidents involve:
- Dog Bites
- Elevator and escalator malfunctions
- Falling merchandise
- Fires and explosions
- Inadequate security
- Porches and stairs collapsing
- Slip and falls
- Snow and ice injuries
- Swimming pool accidents
Common premises liability injuries
Since most premises liability cases involve slips and falls and trip and falls, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries are common. Other common premises liability injuries consist of:
- Facial fractures and traumatic dental injuries
- Wrist, arm and shoulder fractures
- Hip fractures
- Spinal fractures
- Knee and ankle injuries
- Deep cuts, bruises and abrasions
Damages in premises liability cases
Since nearly all premises liability cases revolve around the law of negligence, the damages that are ordinarily recoverable in those cases are also recoverable in premises liability cases. The objective of a damages award is to try to put the injured person in the same position that he or she was in before the injury. That’s known as a compensatory damages award. Compensatory damages in negligence cases might consist of:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost earnings
- Any permanent disfigurement
- Any permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of a normal life
In many premises liability cases, the owner or occupier of land will argue that the injured claimant was partially at fault for his or her injuries. That argument raises the law of comparative negligence.
When comparative negligence is raised, the person who you claim to be liable for your injuries claims that you were partially at fault for the accident too. The most common comparative negligence defense in premises liability cases is raised in slip and falls and trip and falls. It’s easily argued that you simply weren’t watching where you were walking. If your case doesn’t settle and goes to trial, the jury will determine the proportionate percentage of fault between the defendant and you. If you’re determined to be 30 percent at fault, and you were awarded $100,000, your damages award will be reduced down to $70,000. In Idaho, if your percentage of fault was equal to or greater than that of the owner or occupier, you receive nothing.
Injured in a premises liability case?
Nearly all premises liability cases require dealing with insurance defense attorneys who are experienced and skilled at defending these types of cases. You won’t stand much of a chance at receiving a full and fair recovery if you try to represent yourself.
If you were injured on property that is owned or occupied by somebody else, contact us right away for a free consultation and case evaluation. We’re knowledgeable, aggressive and successful Idaho personal injury lawyers. We’ll carefully listen to you, and then we’ll tell you what we believe we can do for you. No legal fees are due unless we obtain a recovery for you.