Kansas City, MO Premises Liability Attorney
When a personal injury case is caused by a type of unsafe environment or defective condition on someone’s property, it is typically referred to as a premises liability lawsuit. If you are involved in such a case, contact one of our experienced and successful Kansas City, MO premises liability lawyers at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet for a free legal consultation. In most situations, these premises liability cases are based on types of negligence and require the victim to prove the following elements:
- First, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property at the time of the incident.
- Second, the plaintiff must prove the defendant was negligent in how he or she used, maintained, or operated the property.
- Third, the plaintiff must prove that he or she was harmed due to using or accessing the property.
- Fourth, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant’s negligence was a major contributing factor to the harm sustained.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
A premises liability case can encompass any number of incidents, but some of the most common include slips and falls, defective conditions, inadequate maintenance of the premises or items on the premises, dog bites, fires, inadequate security features, elevator accidents, flooding, toxic fumes, exposure to chemicals, swimming pool accidents, auto accidents, and more.
In Kansas City, these hazards can arise anywhere, on both commercial and residential premises. If you are injured due to the negligence of a property owner, you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against the responsible individual or entity Below are some of the most common types of property cited in premises liability lawsuits:
- Private homes
- Office buildings
- Schools and universities
- Grocery stores
- Community centers
- Apartment complexes
- Sports and entertainment venues
- Public swimming pools
- Amusement parks
- Shopping malls
- Nightclubs and bars
- Hotels and motels
- Parking lots and sidewalks
Because there are so many possible circumstances and factors involved in each premises liability case, it is necessary for the plaintiff to have an experienced Kansas City, MO-based premises liability attorney who understands how to effectively tackle each of the necessary elements.
Types of Property Visitors
In most situations, the property owner has a duty to properly care for and maintain any property in his ownership. However, depending on the classification of the visitor, the amount of responsibility may vary. Missouri law recognizes three types of property visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
For invitees with expressed or implied permission to enter, the landowner typically has a duty of reasonable care to provide safe premises. For licensees, or people with permission to enter for their own purposes (salespeople), the landowner typically must provide warning of dangerous conditions. For trespassers, or people with no authorization to enter, the landowner traditionally owes no duty – unless the trespasser is a child.
An invitee is owed the highest level of care by a property owner. These individuals are visiting the property with not only the consent of the owner but his or her benefit. For example, a person who goes to a friend’s house for a party or visits his or her neighborhood grocery store to purchase food is an invitee. If someone attends a concert or sporting event at a local venue, he or she would also be an invitee. This distinction also applies to people who go to a public place, such as a park or a beach.
In this situation, the property owner would be responsible for using ordinary care to identify dangerous property conditions. He or she would also need to take steps to prevent injury to invitees before they come to visit.
An owner is liable for an invitee’s injuries if the following criteria are met:
- The invitee is injured due to a dangerous condition on the owner’s property.
- The owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition.
- The owner failed to warn the invitee of the hazard, failed to remove the hazard, or failed to remedy the hazard.
The second type of property visitor is a licensee. Licensees are people who visit someone else’s property with the owner’s express or implied consent. The purpose of the visit is not for the benefit of the owner, but generally the benefit of the visitor. For example, someone stopping by a friend’s house for an unannounced visit would be a licensee. Door-to-door salespeople and delivery people are also examples of licensees.
The distinction between invitees and licensees is very important in premises liability claims. In Kansas City, property owners are liable for the injuries of licensees if the following criteria are met:
- There was a dangerous condition on the owner’s property.
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition.
- The licensee did not know about the dangerous condition.
- The property owner knew that the licensee did not know about the dangerous condition.
- The property owner failed to warn the licensee or remove or remedy the hazard.
Trespassers are the third type of visitor recognized by Missouri law, and the ones with the fewest rights. These individuals visit a property without the owner’s consent or privilege. Property owners do not usually owe trespassers any level of care and are generally not liable for any injuries that occur. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
A Missouri property owner may be liable for a trespasser’s injuries if the following criteria are present:
- There is a dangerous condition on the owner’s property.
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition.
- The property owner knew that someone was trespassing on his or her premises.
For example, say that a property owner has a trail on his or her private premises that people often use as a shortcut. The owner is aware of the constant trespassing. He or she is also aware that there is a cliff in the area that is obscured by trees and bushes.
In this situation, the owner would have a duty to warn trespassers of the hazard. He or she would also need to take steps to prevent injury, like putting up warning signs or setting up a barricade. If a trespasser accidentally falls off the cliff, the owner would be liable for the victim’s injuries, even though he or she entered the premises without permission.
Evidence in a Premises Liability Case
Proving a premises liability claim can be a complex process. You will need to clearly establish the property owner’s negligence and liability for your injuries. To accomplish this, you and your attorney will need to prove the nature of your injuries and show that the property owner knew or should have known about the hazard.
Several pieces of evidence can help establish these facts and prove your right to compensation. Your attorney from Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet will investigate your case and gather a wide range of documents, including surveillance footage, official reports, and witness testimonies.
Surveillance or Security Camera Footage
Many businesses and homeowners have invested in surveillance cameras, which capture the movements and actions of people on their properties. If you were injured in a place with security cameras, there is a strong chance that your accident was caught on tape.
Using this footage, you can prove the nature of your injury and establish the events that led up to your accident. You could also use this evidence to disprove any allegations of shared fault that the property owner might make. These devices often delete footage after a certain period of time, so you should request a copy as soon as possible.
Proof the Owner Knew About the Hazard
Proving that the owner knew about the hazard is critical in a premises liability lawsuit. You will need to gather as much evidence as possible to establish this knowledge. If you cannot prove that the owner knew about the hazard, you will need to show that the owner should have reasonably known about it.
This evidence may include:
- Emails and other correspondence showing that the property owner was notified about the defect
- Documents showing that the dangerous condition existed for a long enough time that a reasonably prudent person should have discovered it
- Photographs, videos, and other pieces of evidence about the dangerous property condition that existed prior to the accident
- Testimony from expert witnesses about the property hazard and how a reasonable property owner should have approached the situation
Evidence from the Scene of the Incident
In premises liability cases, some of the strongest evidence is taken immediately after the accident. If you are able, you should take several photographs and videos of your injuries, the hazard that caused your accident, and the area around the scene. Try to safely preserve any materials or objects that may have contributed to your accident.
You should also keep all of the clothing that you were wearing at the time of the accident. Many of these accidents are caused by liquids and other materials on the floor. Your clothing may contain residue, stains, and other evidence that could establish the nature of your injuries.
Accident and Incident Reports
If you called 911 after your accident, the responding police officers will have filed a report about the incident. You can request a copy of this document and use it as evidence in your claim. If you did not call 911 and were injured at a store or other commercial property, the property owner or manager may have filed an incident report about your accident; you should request a copy of this document as well.
Crime Rates and Past Incidents
For cases involving negligent security, you will need to show that the property owner should have taken more steps to protect residents, patrons, and employees from danger. In these situations, evidence about crime rates in the area and previous incidents at the property can help establish the owner’s liability.
Maintenance and Inspection Reports
Many commercial and residential properties are inspected on a regular basis and need frequent maintenance. These reports can help establish whether the owner performed regular maintenance on areas of concern—or whether he or she ignored the recommendations of inspectors. You can also use maintenance and inspection reports to establish the timeline leading up to the dangerous property conditions and the circumstances around them.
If someone saw your accident happen, his or her testimony can be valuable evidence in your case. Witnesses can help corroborate the events that led up to your accident and how your injuries occurred. If other people tried to report the hazard, you can also request these witnesses to testify about the owner’s knowledge.
After the accident, ask any witnesses in the area if you can have their contact information. Write down the names of any people who may know the property hazard as well. Your lawyer can contact them and determine whether they could testify on your behalf.
Potential Premises Liability Injuries and Damages
Depending on the extent of your injuries or the circumstances surrounding the premises liability claim, you may be able to seek various types of damages. These may include any or all of the following forms of compensation: pain and suffering, medical bills, future medical expenses, future income, loss of enjoyment, emotional trauma, funeral expenses, and more. Here are a few examples of some of the types of injuries that are commonly sustained from premises liability cases:
The number of damages you receive will depend on numerous facts, including how soon you sought medical care, any related diagnoses, and your recovery process. If you or a loved one sustained an injury due to a landowner’s negligence, contact the Kansas City personal injury attorneys at Fowler Pickert Eisenmenger Norfleet.
Understanding Comparative Fault
Under the comparative fault system, you may still be able to recover damages, even if you are partially responsible for the injury or accident. This means that even if you were not exercising reasonable care, you may be able to recover some damages for your injuries. For example, if the courts rule you are 40% liable for your actions and total damages are $10,000, you can still recover $6,000.
Value of Help From Premises Liability Attorney in Kansas City, MO
When it comes to a premises liability case, the most important thing you can do is find the right attorney to represent you. Defense attorneys are extremely skilled at twisting facts and placing the blame wholly on you when the defendant is entirely to blame. On the other hand, a talented premises liability lawyer in Kansas City can keep the focus on what truly matters and away from superfluous details.
You need a Kansas City, MO premises liability attorney who is skilled, experienced and has focused expertise in premises liability cases. When selecting a lawyer, look at past case verdicts and explore testimonials. Your attorney’s ability to fight for your rights may be the difference between a large settlement and a waste of time. Contact our team of attorneys for a free legal consultation, today.