If you or a loved one suffered an injury on somebody else’s property, you might have a premises liability case. Property owners must keep their property reasonably safe. When they fail to do so, and someone gets hurt, you can hold the property owner liable.

To succeed in these cases, you must prove:

  • The owner of the property owed you a duty of care
  • They breached that duty by allowing an unsafe condition
  • That unsafe condition caused your injuries
  • You suffered actual damages as a result

Let’s break each of these down in more detail with the help of a premises liability lawyer.

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Duty of Care

The first thing to establish is that the property owner owed you a legal duty of care. It means they needed take reasonable steps to ensure your safety on their property.

In most cases, property owners automatically owe a primary duty of care to anyone who enters their property legally, such as guests, customers, tenants, etc. The exception is trespassers—property owners generally don’t owe a duty of care to people who enter the property illegally without permission.

The exact duty of care owed can vary based on your status:

Invitees: The Highest Duty of Care

When you enter a property as an invitee, the owner owes you the highest level of care. Invitees are people who are invited onto a property for the owner’s benefit. It includes customers shopping at a store, diners eating at a restaurant, or guests staying at a hotel.

Property owners must take active steps to keep invitees safe. Owners can’t just wait for invitees to tell them about dangers. They have to look for and address safety issues proactively. If an owner fails to either fix a hazard or warn invitees about it and someone gets hurt, you can hold the owner liable.

Licensees: A Moderate Duty of Care

Licensees are people allowed on a property for their purposes, not the owner’s benefit. This can include a friend visiting your home, a salesperson coming to your office, or a contractor hired to repair your property.

Property owners owe licensees a moderate duty of care. While they still have to take steps to keep the property reasonably safe, they don’t have to go to the same level of inspection and prevention as they would for invitees.

Trespassers: Little to No Duty of Care

Trespassers are people who enter a property without any legal right or permission to be there. Property owners generally owe no duty of care to adult trespassers. If someone is on your property illegally, keeping them safe is not your job.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. Owners can’t intentionally set traps or hazards to hurt trespassers. The other major exception in many states is for child trespassers, especially regarding attractive nuisances like swimming pools or construction equipment.

Overall, the level of care a property owner owes you depends on why you’re on the property. Invitees get the most protection, licensees get moderate protection from known hazards, and trespassers get little to no protection. Knowing your status is important if you get hurt on someone else’s property and need to file a lawsuit or insurance claim.

Breach of Duty

The next thing you need to prove is that the property owner breached their duty of care to you. This means they failed to keep the property reasonably safe as the law requires.

Examples of breaching the duty of care can include:

  • Failing to clean up a spill in a store aisle
  • Not repairing a broken staircase railing
  • Neglecting to provide adequate lighting in a parking lot
  • Not replacing worn-out carpeting that poses a trip hazard
  • Failing to fix a faulty elevator
  • Not closing off access to a swimming pool
  • Neglecting to put locks on windows in an apartment complex

Anytime a property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on their property and failed to take reasonable steps to fix it or warn people, they likely breached their duty of care. The key is that the danger needs to be something the owner knew about or reasonably should have discovered with proper maintenance and inspections.

Your premises liability lawyer can collect evidence like maintenance records, security camera footage, witness statements, and expert analysis to show the owner breached their duty by allowing an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property.


Yellow caution tape blocking access to a playground with slides and structures.

You must do more than show the property’s unsafe condition. You must also prove that a specific condition caused your accident and injuries.

For example, perhaps you fell down some stairs and argue the staircase had an unsafe design. But the evidence shows you fell because someone else bumped into you, not because of the staircase design. Then, the property owner will argue that a breach of duty didn’t cause your fall.

You need a direct link between the property owner’s negligence and your injuries. An injury on someone’s property doesn’t automatically make them liable. The unsafe condition must have caused your injury.

Proving causation often requires:

  • Video footage of the accident
  • Photos from the scene
  • Witness testimony
  • Medical records
  • Expert analysis of the unsafe condition
  • Accident reconstruction

Your premises liability attorney will combine all the pieces to show a clear cause-and-effect link between the owner’s breach of duty and your injuries.

If other factors contributed to the accident, your case can get complicated. The owner may argue you were partially at fault.

A skilled premises liability attorney can prove the owner’s negligence was the primary cause to get you fair compensation.

Proving Your Damages

The final thing you need to prove is that you suffered actual damages. It’s not enough to show an unsafe condition might have hurt someone. You have to prove you suffered actual harm.

Damages in a premises liability case can include:

Medical Bills for Treating Your Injuries

You might need medical treatment if you suffered an injury on someone else’s property. It includes ambulance rides, hospital stays, surgeries, prescription medications, and physical therapy. These medical services can add up to a significant amount of money.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for all medical bills related to treating your injuries. It includes any bills you’ve already paid and any outstanding balances you still owe to healthcare providers.

Keep careful track of all your medical expenses. It means saving receipts, bills, and insurance statements. Your premises liability lawyer can gather all of this documentation to prove the total cost of your medical treatment.

Recovering your medical expenses is vital to getting fair compensation in a premises liability case. You shouldn’t have to bear the financial burden of an injury that wasn’t your fault. A successful claim can ensure that the at-fault property owner covers your medical bills.

Anticipated Future Medical Expenses

Some injuries suffered on someone else’s property may require ongoing medical treatment well into the future. For example, a severe spinal cord injury might need lifelong care and therapy. A traumatic brain injury can require regular doctor’s visits and medication management for years to come.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for anticipated future medical expenses and your current medical bills. It includes any ongoing treatment, therapy, medication, or assistive devices you’ll likely need.

Proving future medical expenses often requires testimony from medical experts. These experts can evaluate your injuries and estimate the costs you’ll likely incur over your lifetime. Your premises liability attorney can hire these experts and present their testimony to support your claim for future damages.

Lost Income from Missing Work

Injuries often force people to miss work while they recover. If your injury keeps you out of work for days, weeks, or even months, those lost paychecks can be a significant financial blow.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for the income you lose due to the injury. It includes any income you’ve already missed out on and any paid time off, like sick or vacation days, that you’ve had to use.

Proving lost income involves providing documentation like pay stubs, tax returns, or a letter from your employer confirming your missed work and regular income. Your premises liability lawyer can gather this evidence to show the full extent of your lost income.

Reduced Future Earning Capacity

An injury may impact your ability to work and earn a living. For example, a back injury might prevent you from lifting heavy objects, which can limit your job options or reduce your hours. A brain injury can affect your concentration and keep you from handling the demands of your regular job.

If your injury reduces your future earning capacity, you can seek compensation for those lost future income. It means the difference between what you should have earned without the injury and what you’re now likely to earn with the injury’s limitations.

Proving a reduction in future earning capacity requires testimony from vocational experts and economists. These experts can evaluate your skills, limitations, and the job market to estimate your likely future earnings and how much less you’ll earn because of the injury. Your premises liability lawyer can bring in these experts to support your claim.

Pain and Suffering

Injuries don’t just cause financial losses. They also lead to significant physical pain and suffering. Being in constant pain, struggling with limited mobility, or dealing with the side effects of treatment can all severely impact your quality of life.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for the pain and suffering you endure due to the injury. It includes physical discomfort, aches, limitations, and pain from surgeries or treatments.

Putting a dollar value on pain and suffering can be difficult. There’s no objective bill or receipt you can point to. Instead, your lawyer may use one of several methods to determine a fair amount.

It can involve assigning a per-diem value for each day you suffer or multiplying your economic damages by a set factor. Your premises liability attorney can choose a method that maximizes your compensation.

Emotional Distress

Physical injuries often come with a heavy emotional and mental toll. You may experience things like depression, anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, or other mental health challenges in the aftermath of an accident.

Emotional distress is another form of non-economic damages you can seek in a premises liability case. It includes any mental anguish, psychological trauma, or emotional suffering you’ve endured because of the injury and its impacts on your life.

Proving emotional distress may involve testifying about your own experiences as well as providing testimony from mental health experts like therapists or psychiatrists. These experts can diagnose any conditions you’re dealing with and discuss how the injury caused or exacerbated them.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Blurred image of a forklift moving through a warehouse with tall shelves.

Injuries can significantly impact your ability to participate in and enjoy everyday activities and hobbies. You may never play sports, exercise, travel, spend time with friends and family, or do other things you loved the same way as before the accident.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for this loss of enjoyment of life. It means any way your injury has diminished your ability to partake in the recreational, social, and familial activities that brought you joy and fulfillment.

Proving a loss of enjoyment usually involves testifying about how your life has changed. You can talk about the hobbies and activities you can no longer do or have a reduced ability to partake in. Testimony from friends and family can also support your claim by discussing the changes they’ve noticed in your activities and mood.

Disability or Disfigurement

Some injuries may result in long-term or permanent disabilities or disfigurements. It can include things like paralysis, amputation, severe scarring, or any other lasting physical changes or limitations.

In a premises liability case, you can seek compensation for the impacts of a disability or disfigurement on your life. It includes the physical pain, head trauma, loss of function, and emotional distress these conditions can cause.

Proving disability or disfigurement damages may involve testimony from medical experts about your prognosis and limitations. Photos and videos can also show the extent of any visible physical changes. You and your loved ones can also testify about how the disability or disfigurement has impacted your daily life and mental state.

Contact a Premises Liability Attorney

Were you injured on someone else’s property? Reach out to a skilled premises liability attorney today for a free consultation. A premises liability lawyer can analyze your case and advise you of your legal options.

You shouldn’t have to bear the costs of an injury that wasn’t your fault. Let an experienced personal injury lawyer stand up for your rights.

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