Property owners in the state of Missouri have a legal obligation to ensure their property is safe and secure. To do this, property owners must take care of any potential hazards, or, at a minimum, ensure there is ample warning of any potential or existing hazards. Premise liability law holds that property owners are liable for accidents and the resulting injuries which occur on their property. During a premise liability lawsuit, the condition of the property will be a factor, as well as whether there was a reasonable attempt on the part of the owner to repair conditions—or warn of their existence—which caused the accident.
Types of Premise Liability Claims
Virtually any hazard which exists on public or private property could conceivably lead to an accident or injury which, in turn, could lead to a premise liability lawsuit. There are three types of premise liability claims which are the most common:
- Slip and fall accidents: Slip & Fall accidents are likely the most common type of premise liability claim; people fall in shopping malls, grocery stores, on escalators and stairs, in parking lots, in restaurants and bars, in airports terminals and on sidewalks. It is much more common for the elderly to take a tumble than for younger people. The most common reasons for slip and falls are spills which are not promptly cleaned up, slippery or icy walkways, poorly-lit staircases, uneven surfaces, broken steps, and rugs which are not secured. Injuries from slip and falls can range from bumps, bruises and broken bones to brain trauma and spinal cord injury and, in some cases, death.
- Dog Bites: The state of Missouri operates under strict liability statutes when it comes to dog bites. This means the owner of the dog is responsible for the bite if injuries resulted from the bite. The victim of the bite must also have either been lawfully on private property or on public property and must not have deliberately provoked the dog prior to the bite. Missouri statutes state that an owner who is liable for a dog bite must pay a fine of $1,000 and must also pay any other damages to the injured person, whether those damages are to property or in the form of medical bills. Strict liability means even if the owner of the dog took reasonable precautions to restrain the dog or prevent the attack, the owner is still liable for a bite and injuries caused by the bite. If injuries were not from a dog bite, rather were from a dog jumping on them, the injured person must file a negligence claim against the animal’s owner and must show the owner of the dog failed to use reasonable care to restrain the dog. Criminal charges can also result from a bite from a “dangerous” dog—one who has bitten with no provocation in the past, and bites without provocation a second time.
- Swimming pool accidents: Swimming pools are also a common premise liability issues, in particular when young children wander into an unfenced area. According to government research, between 2012 and 2014, there were 5,400 non-fatal drowning injuries for children who were 15 or younger, which required emergency room treatment, the majority of which were associated with pools rather than spas. Between 2010 and 2012, there were 382 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than age 15, with the 1-3-year old age group represented by 64 percent of the non-fatal drowning accidents between 2012 and 2014. There are few accidents more terrible than those involving children and water. Drowning accidents for both children and adults occur in private swimming pools and spas, hotel and motel swimming pools, city and county pools and water parks. A hotel or motel swimming pool can be a danger zone due to overcrowding, damaged pool ladders or lack of pool ladders, inadequate pool maintenance, no lifeguards on duty, poorly trained lifeguards, missing safety equipment, disrepair of a pool safety fence or lack of self-latching or self-closing gates.
The Statute of Limitations in the State of Missouri
The statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on the right to file a lawsuit. The specific time limits may vary depending on the type of case you will file. Regarding premise liability cases, such as a slip and fall or a dog bite, you have five years from the date of the underlying incident to file a claim. The owner of the property may claim that you bear at least some responsibility for the accident and your subsequent injuries.
If the property owner can show that you are not blameless in the accident, your eventual award could be decreased by your percentage of liability. The owner of the property could claim you were on property where visitors are not typically allowed, that you were wearing unsafe or inappropriate footwear, that you ignored hazard cones or signs or that you were not paying attention while walking because you were using your phone or looking at something besides the area where you were walking.
How The Finney Injury Law Can Help
All owners of property must exercise a reasonable level of care in order to ensure visitors are safe from hazards or dangers. A valid premise liability claim requires that the property contained a dangerous or hazardous condition, the owner of the property was aware of the danger or hazard—or should have reasonably been aware—the owner failed to address the danger or hazard or even warn of its existence, and the danger or hazard resulted in injury to a visitor. Your attorney from Finney Injury Law may be able to assist you in recovering compensation for your medical expenses, present and future lost wages, pain and suffering which resulted from the accident and, in the case of a death, your attorney may sue for wrongful death which resulted from the negligence of the property owner.
Finney Injury Law attorneys want to help you recover the compensation you deserve for your accident with injuries. We will work hard to collect the evidence needed to fully document the fact that your injuries were a direct result of the negligence of another. Our attorneys have access to highly experienced medical professionals in the St. Louis area who can evaluate the extent of your injuries, making a determination of the length of time you will require for recovery. The attorneys at Finney Injury Law are highly skilled negotiators and will work with the defendant’s insurance company to reach an equitable settlement. If the offers are simply not sufficient, we will aggressively defend your case through litigation. When you have been injured through the negligence of another, our attorneys can help ensure the outcome of your case looks much more positive. Contact Finney Injury Law today for a comprehensive evaluation of your premises liability claim.