When someone else’s error or negligence injures you, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and unsure how to proceed. As medical bills stack up and you try to recover from your personal injury, making sure the at-fault party is held liable may fall to the bottom of your to-do list. You know that you deserve justice, but the process of seeking it feels like an insurmountable obstacle when you are already dealing with an unjust load.
Understanding liability is essential to know how to proceed following an accident. If you are injured and intend to seek compensation, you will need to understand the difference between personal and premises liability. While premises liability and personal liability sound similar, there is a significant distinction between the two types of cases. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between premises liability and personal liability.
Premises Liability Explained
A premises liability claim focuses on personal injury claims that occur on property that does not belong to the injured party. Depending on the accident’s circumstance, individuals injured on another party’s property may be eligible for compensation from the property owner.
Premises liability law specifies what type of factors must be present for owners to be held responsible for victims’ injuries and what forms of damages the victims can pursue with their premises liability claims. Personal injury cases that seek recompense for injuries sustained on another person’s property are governed by premises liability law and considered a premises liability case.
Elements of a Successful Premises Liability Claim
Premise liability law states that accidents must demonstrate the existence of four specific elements for victims to file a claim. The burden of proof is on the injured individual, which means that the victim is responsible for proving their case. Before receiving compensation for their losses, the victim will need to establish the following elements:
The Defendant Owned or Occupied the Property
The circumstances surrounding your accident will determine if you bring a claim against the property owner, tenant, or both. Your premises liability lawyer will be able to ascertain which party owed you a duty of care and will guide you throughout the process of filing a claim.
The Defendant Was Negligent in Property Care or Maintenance
The property owner or occupier has a responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe environment. In premises liability cases, the extent of the duty of care the property owner or occupier owes the victim will vary depending on what category the injured party falls into. They can belong to one of three categories:
Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. Invitees are people who have been expressly invited onto the property for lawful reasons. Invitees may be invited onto the property for personal or professional reasons.
A property owner may be held accountable for injuries an invitee receives if the plaintiff (victim) can prove that the owner was aware that a danger existed on the property and did not take steps to fix the hazard or warn the invitee of its existence. The owner could also face a premises liability lawsuit if they fail to identify unsafe conditions that cause bodily injury to the victim when they inspect the property before granting the invitee access.
Licensees have permission to be on the property and utilize it for their own gain. Just a few examples of this type of scenario include a property owner allowing individuals to hike on their land or an owner allowing their neighbor to fish in their pond.
Property owners do not have as high a duty of care to licensees as they do invitees, but they owe them greater care than trespassers. Damages could be awarded to a licensee injured on the owner’s property if the plaintiff can prove they were injured because the owner failed to correct a known danger on the property. Unlike premises liability accidents involving invitees, the owner does not have a duty to inspect the premises before the licensee’s arrival.
Premises liability cases brought by victims who were trespassing are the least likely to be successful. Trespassers are individuals who come onto a person’s property without their permission.
Trespassing can occur on personal and business property. While the property or business owner is not obligated to actively protect trespassers, they cannot complete malicious, intentional acts to injure the trespasser.
The Victim Was Injured Due to the Defendant’s Negligence
Also known as the element of causation, this component of successful premises liability cases requires the property owners to have contributed to or caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Owners can contribute by neglecting to address a dangerous situation or failing to observe a hazard that someone using reasonable care would recognize.
The Victim Experienced Losses
When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, they will want to know what injuries and losses you experienced because of the accident. Personal injury law requires damages. Otherwise, there is no lawsuit.
Damages can range from economic losses such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Alternatively, in situations where an accident was traumatic, or the injury had a negative effect on the plaintiff’s life, there could be non-economic damages awarded for mental distress and pain and suffering.
Personal Liability Explained
Personal liability law addresses how parties respond to accidents that happen as a result of personal negligence. A difference between premises liability and personal liability is that a person does not have to own or occupy property to have a personal liability lawsuit brought against them to seek compensation for losses the incident caused, such as property damage and medical costs.
In a personal liability case, the liability claim is directed at the person who injured you, not the location where the injury occurred or if the defendant (at-fault party) exercised reasonable care when maintaining their property. Personal negligence can be committed by an individual, company, or even a government agency, and an experienced lawyer will help you establish and prove who is truly liable for your injury.
Types of Personal Liability Cases
There are various scenarios that can culminate in a personal liability claim. Some of the most common situations lawyers encounter in this area are:
Personal Liability Insurance Coverage
Personal liability insurance, also called personal liability coverage, is designed to protect you if you are found personally liable for someone else’s injury or damage to their personal belongings. This liability coverage can be used to compensate victims for their medical expenses, property damage, and other losses they suffer due to the accident.
Most home insurance policies typically cover these liability claims, but you will want to talk to your insurance company to ensure you have adequate coverage. While it can vary from one insurance company to the next, usually, personal liability coverage maxes out at $500,000.
Let an Experienced Attorney Handle Your Liability Claims
Understanding the nuances and intricacies of personal and premises liability is not something that can be done with a quick internet search over the weekend. Whether you are injured on someone’s property in a slip-and-fall accident, or you are filing an accident claim because you were in a car accident, you will want a lawyer representing your case.
Personal injury lawyers are experienced in filing personal liability claims and premises liability claims and will fight for fair compensation on your behalf. Instead of spending your time communicating with insurance companies or property owners, allow your lawyer to take these stressors off your plate so that you can focus on recovering from your injury.
Schedule a Free Consultation Today
At Holman Schiavone, LLC, we understand how frustrating it is to have your life upended by someone’s poor decisions. To make things more convenient during this stressful time, we offer weekend and evening hours to fit your needs. Our compassionate attorneys work diligently to protect your rights and secure the most favorable result for your situation, whether that means negotiating to get you an exceptional settlement or going to court to fight for the outcome you deserve.
We offer a free case evaluation, where we will discuss the components of your case and ensure you are aware of all the legal options available to you. Do not let an unfortunate incident leave you lost and at the mercy of unscrupulous insurance adjusters. Call Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-399-5149, and schedule your free consultation today.