You might assume that if a property is private, the owner has full rights to use and maintain it as he or she desires. This is not necessarily the case. Even owners of private properties have basic duties to keep the premises free from hazards. If you suffer an injury on someone’s privately owned property, the owner may be liable for your damages so it is always a good idea to speak with a qualified Bakersfield premises liability lawyer. Here is an overview of some possible legal options you have after an injury on private property.
Sue the Property Owner
A slip and fall, accidental drowning, criminal attack, or dog bite on private premises may give the injured victim grounds to sue the property owner. Your right to sue depends on your status as a property visitor or guest. There are three guest statuses, each with different duties the property owner owes:
- Invitee. If the owner invites guests onto private property for reasons of his or her own, such as for a yard sale, barbecue, or pool party, the guests are “invitees.” As such, they are owed the greatest standards of care. The property owner must keep the premises free from known hazards, check for unknown hazards, and post warning signs if necessary.
- Licensee. Licensees are people who enter private property for their own reasons. Examples include service teams and salespeople. Private property owners don’t owe licensees as many duties of care as invitees. They do not have to inspect properties for unknown hazards.
- Trespasser. If you trespass on private property and suffer an injury, you most likely do not have a case against the property owner. Owners don’t owe trespassers any duties of care, other than a duty not to cause harm to the trespasser. If the trespasser was a child, on the other hand, the property owner has a duty to keep the premises safe.
To sue the owner of a piece of private property, you need proof that the owner owed you a duty of care, breached this duty, and that this breach caused your injuries. You must demonstrate that your accident and injuries would not have happened were it not for some act of negligence on the property owner’s part.
Sue the Business Owner
A commercial property can still be privately owned. If you suffer an injury on a commercial property instead of a residential property, you may be able to sue the business owner or corporation. The laws in most states hold commercial property owners to very high standards in terms of maintaining safe premises.
Since guests will be invitees, commercial property owners must take care to repair known hazards, such as uneven curbs or defective staircase railings. They must also check for hidden hazards, such as faulty electrical wires in the walls. Failure to maintain a safe business, resulting in guest injury, is most likely grounds for a suit.
Call an Attorney
Laws regarding home and business owners’ duties of care in regard to safe properties vary by state but keep the same general rules. If you’ve been injured on privately owned property, retain a reliable Bakersfield injury attorney experienced in premises liability cases. You will need to prove that the owner owed you a duty of care, but failed to act within the accepted standards. Negotiations with insurance companies and owners of private property can be difficult. A good attorney can make the process simpler and more rewarding.