What Qualifies as Negligence in a Premises Liability Case?
A premises liability case is a civil lawsuit that can be filed after an accident takes place on someone else’s property. It is a claim seeking financial compensation from a negligent property owner for a dangerous property defect or hazard. Understanding negligence in a premises liability case can help you determine whether you have grounds to pursue this type of claim in Alabama.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the foundation for most personal injury claims, including premises liability lawsuits. It is when someone acts with less than the required or appropriate amount of care for a situation, resulting in harm to others. In a premises liability lawsuit, negligence can refer to many acts or omissions committed by a property owner, including:
- Failing to remedy a property defect in a reasonable amount of time.
- Ignoring known property hazards.
- Engaging in negligent property maintenance.
- Using or controlling a property in a dangerous manner.
- Failing to mop up a spill promptly.
- Not posting any warning or caution signs.
- Failing to keep children safe from an attractive nuisance.
- Ignoring the state’s swimming pool barrier requirements.
- Failing to provide adequate security.
There are limitless examples of actions that could constitute negligence by a property owner or landowner in Alabama. If a reasonable and prudent property owner would have done something differently and prevented the visitor’s injuries, the defendant may be guilty of negligence.
What Is a Property Owner’s Duties of Care?
Negligence consists of four elements: a duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages. A duty of care is a legal obligation to act in a certain manner. A property owner’s duties of care change according to the classification of the property visitor. When a visitor is classified as an invitee, meaning he or she has permission to enter the property and does so for the mutual benefit of the property owner, the property owner has three duties of care:
- Inspect a property for potential hazards and injury risks.
- Remedy or repair any known property defects promptly.
- Warn visitors of potential hazards, such as by posting signs.
If the visitor is a licensee, or someone who has permission to enter but does so for his or her own purposes, the property owner does not have to inspect the property for unknown hazards. Finally, if the visitor is trespassing or does not have permission to be on the property, the property owner does not have any duties of care other than a duty not to intentionally cause the trespasser harm.
Negligence occurs when a property owner owes a visitor a duty of care but breaches or violates the duty. It refers to an act or omission that foreseeably could cause harm, such as ignoring a known property defect. If negligence is the direct cause of the plaintiff’s injuries and the plaintiff suffered compensable damages as a result, the four elements of negligence have been satisfied.
How to Prove Negligence in a Premises Liability Case
When you file a premises liability claim in Alabama, you have the burden of proof as the plaintiff. This means it is up to you or your Birmingham premises liability lawyer to prove your case. You must establish your claim based on a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to show that the defendant is more likely to be negligent than not true. This requires clear and convincing evidence.
Evidence to support a premises liability claim may include photographs, video footage, accident reports, eyewitness statements, expert testimony, medical records and property maintenance logs. An experienced Birmingham personal injury attorney can investigate your case and gather evidence of negligence for you. Then, your lawyer can present this evidence in a compelling way using storytelling techniques to an insurance company, judge or jury. For more information about bringing a premises liability claim in Alabama, contact Drake Injury Lawyers.