The North Carolina Premises Liability Guide was created by Brad Morris Law Firm to help residents obtain maximum compensation for their claim.
If you were injured from a fall due to a hazardous condition on someone else’s property, you may be contemplating a lawsuit against the property owner, and wondering whether that is the right move. One of the factors you will certainly want to consider is how much your slip and fall claim might be worth. The short answer is: It depends. Each case is different. Each venue (where you file a lawsuit) is different. However, there are some common considerations that should help you get a feel for what your claim may be worth. For purposes of this article, the assumption will be that you have a valid slip and fall claim, and you merely want to determine how much it is worth.
A slip and fall injury, also known as a trip and fall, is a premises liability claim, a type of personal injury claim or case based on a person slipping (or tripping) on the premises of another and, as a result, suffering injury. It is a tort. A person who is injured by falling may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injury from the owner or person in possession of the premises where the injury occurred
Getting hurt is really awful especially if it’s because someone else’s negligence resulted in your injury. If you are injured on someone else’s property and that landowner was negligent, you may have a claim against them. Richmond County, NC premises liability lawyer H Bright Lindler is here to help you get the fair results you deserve. Call today to get started.
Laws Involved in a Premises Liability Claim
Landowners in North Carolina owe you a standard of care when you are visiting on their property. They are supposed to reduce hazards on their property to protect you from harm.
This standard of care is designed to protect anyone who is lawfully visiting on their property and excludes trespassers. They are responsible for keeping everything well maintained, clear of hazards, clean, and secure. If they fail to do this, you likely have a claim against them for premises liability.
You can recover damages for this incident if you can prove that the landowner was negligent in their mission to protect you. You must then prove that this negligence is why you were harmed. You need to show that the landowner knew of the dangers of their negligence and did nothing to rectify it knowing that someone could and likely would eventually get hurt. This is what your Richmond County, NC premises liability lawyer helps you do.
An exception to this would be if there is something that cannot be fixed within reason. For example, if they had property that had a natural cliff-like formation, they would only need to give visitors warnings of the hazards of that area.
Anyone who is on the property illegally is not going to be able to bring a claim if they are hurt. These rules don’t apply to a trespasser on the property. If you were lawfully on a property but the landowner is accusing you of trespassing to get out of being a liable party, we can look into this and see what we can do to continue to protect your rights to compensation.
Common Premises Liability Case Types
There are truly countless ways you can get hurt on someone else’s property that could make you eligible for a premises liability claim. People get hurts all kinds of different ways all the time. The most common types of premises liability cases a Richmond County, NC liability lawyer handles include the following:
Slip and Falls
It is one of the most common types of injury cases in general. You might slip and fall at the grocery store, a mall, a restaurant, and so on. In a claim like this you will have to prove that the landowner here knew about the hazard but didn’t fix anything. For example, perhaps you slipped in a drink that a waiter dropped but hadn’t been cleaned up. They should have put up a hazard sign while in the process of cleaning it to avoid anyone getting hurt while no worker was by the spill to warn visitors.
Defective or Improperly Maintained Things on a Property
This could be a rotten front porch that someone gets hurt on while it collapses or railings that snap off and result in someone tumbling down the stairs.
Issues with Security on the Premises
The landowner is supposed to know about the crime in the area. If they are not taking measures to prevent violent crimes for example, they are going to be liable for your injuries relating to this crime.
Getting Bit by a Dog
Getting bit or attacked by a dog on someone else’s property may constitute at a premises liability case. That is something you would need to discuss with your Richmond County, NC premises liability lawyer.
How the Insurance Company Plays a Role in Your Claim
You can be compensated by the insurance company that represents the landowner. That is considered liability insurance that is homeowner’s liability insurance. For a business it is going to be a general liability policy.
Sometimes you can get your damages covered for your injury on the landowner’s property even if they didn’t directly cause your injury. They may be able to provide that through no-fault insurance or med pay coverage.
If you’ve been hurt, make sure your first step is to report your injuries to the landowner so that they have record that you were involved in an accident on their property and things can commence through their insurance.
Suing a City or County for Injury
Recently, someone in North Carolina called me and explained to me that the sidewalks hadn’t been maintained properly. They were walking forward, looking ahead, and before they knew it, they had tripped and fallen, seriously injuring their arm. It turns out they’re going to have to have surgery on their arm because of this bad fall.
In North Carolina, if a city or a county is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks, you can bring a lawsuit; however, when you bring a lawsuit, you have to know certain special things about suing a city and suing a county. The first thing you need to do is that you have to have an attorney that has experience in suing a city or a county so that those special things that occur in a lawsuit against a city or a county are included in your lawsuit. Obviously, the second thing you need to do, as well, is you need to go and follow up with your doctor’s care and do follow doctor’s orders. That’s real important.
Those are really two of the most important things you need to do when you’re confronted in a situation where you have to sue the city or you have to sue a county. Suing a city and a county is different from suing private entities. You need an attorney that has some experience in doing that. Our firm has sued a county before. Because of that experience, we can bring that experience to bear in your case.
Injured on a Residential Property in North Carolina
Recently, I had someone from North Carolina call me. They had been seriously injured at their friend’s home. Unfortunately, their friend hadn’t made repairs that they should have made. They didn’t have any warning about the hazard. This person ended up stepping into something, twisting their foot, and getting seriously injured. They called me and they wanted to know what they needed to do.
I told them the first thing they needed to do was to seek medical attention right away. If they have already gone to the emergency room, then they need to follow up with the doctor that the emergency room told them to go and see. Then they needed to do what the doctor that they went to see told them to do, so that they would be “compliant with doctor’s orders.”
The second thing they needed to do was to seek legal advice right away, as well. The reason they need to do that is because evidence can disappear. If evidence disappears, it makes it more difficult in the case. Seek legal advice right away. An attorney will know how to send out letters to make sure that things don’t get cleaned up before pictures can be made and other things like that.
Third, you need to go to an attorney that specializes in personal injury cases and is willing to take a case to trial. If you go to that type of attorney from the beginning, you are preparing for the worst and you’re hoping for the best. An attorney that is willing to take the cases to trial is well-known by the insurance companies. It changes how they behave when they see an attorney they know is willing to go to trial versus an attorney they know that might not be specializing in trials and might not go to court that often.
There’s three things you need to do. One, you need to seek medical attention. Number Two, you need to seek legal advice right away. Three, you need to find an attorney that is willing to take your case to trial and is used to preparing cases to go to trial. By doing that, you’ve prepared for the worst and you are able to hope for the best. You can hope that you can resolve your case without having to go to trial, but you’re prepared to, if you need to.
Unsafe Condition of Property
Recently, someone from North Carolina called me and told me they had been hurt at a shopping mall. They wanted to know if the mall had an obligation to have protected them from the trip hazard that occurred. A trip hazard in North Carolina can be three things.
It can be a trip hazard that is unrepaired and not eliminated. It can be a trip hazard that is unguarded so that you can’t fall in it. Finally, it can be a trip hazard that patrons were not warned of. It can’t be guarded, so yellow tape has to be put around it, orange cones have to be put around it, yellow flags, etc.
Those are the types of trip hazards that can occur in North Carolina in shopping malls, in stores, and even in personal residences. If you have been injured by these types of trip hazards where these things weren’t done, you need to call an experienced premises liability attorney. Call our office and we can help you.
You need to call our office quickly because things change, evidence gets swept away, and sometimes insurance adjusters will be calling you and being pushy about getting a statement.
Partial Fault in a Premises Liability Case
Recently, someone called my office in North Carolina. Unfortunately, they believe that they were partially at fault when they walked somewhere that was marked that said, “Do not enter.” Unfortunately, this is something that is almost fatal to a premises liability case in North Carolina.
North Carolina follows a legal doctrine called contributory negligence, which is a fancy way of saying that you caused your own injury. You caused enough of your own injury that you can’t win a lawsuit. In fact, the doctrine is so specific that even if you are just 1.5% at fault, a judge is going to instruct a jury that they are to award zero in the verdict.
If you were at fault, unfortunately, you’re going to have to take care of the medical bills. You’re going to have to work through your healing process as best you can. It is not the kind of case that we can file a claim for and expect to win.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in a Premises Liability Case
Recently, someone called me about a fall they had in a North Carolina store. They wanted to know if I could help them. This particular individual called me and the first thing they told me was that they really hadn’t understood how badly hurt they were. What’s more, somebody had called them from the store and took a recorded statement. When this person gave the recorded statement, they didn’t know how serious this recorded statement was or how much research would go into a claim after that recorded statement. This person had given the recorded statement without contacting an experienced Richmond County, NC personal injury attorney.
That person’s statement didn’t turn out so well, as you can imagine, but it doesn’t end there. The next thing that person did is they delayed going and getting treatment. Later on, when their foot wouldn’t get well and started swelling more and more, they finally went a month and a half later and sought treatment. When they did, they ended up having x-rays taken. They learned that they had a fracture in their foot that was getting worse as time went on.
Yet, the gap between when they fell and when they actually sought treatment was six weeks. Again, when you wait that long, you are going to be accused of not hurting your foot when you fell, but hurting it somewhere else and trying to blame their injury on the store.
Third, they didn’t seek an attorney that was willing to go to court and went to court on a regular basis. They didn’t seek an experienced North Carolina trial lawyer. As a result, their case wasn’t developed in the fashion that it really needed to be. In fact, they waited to find an attorney. When they waited, they had already made the mistakes of giving a recorded statement and not seeking immediate medical attention.
Finally, they realized the attorney they had was not the kind of attorney that would go to court. They gave me a call. They said, “I understand you’re the kind of attorney that will go to court and try your case.”
Unfortunately, though, I looked at the case, and I looked at the other cases that I had, and I said, well, we’ve got three mistakes that were made in this case. I’ve got four other cases where those folks didn’t make those mistakes. I’m not going to be able to take this case because I need to work on the cases where people didn’t make the mistakes, where people called me before they gave a recorded statement, where people listened to me when I said go get your medical attention right away, and where people came to me, someone who’s willing to take their case to court. In those cases, I was able to begin shaping their case right after their injury.
Recorded Statement After A Premises Liability Injury
Recently, someone’s friend called my office on their behalf. They said that their friend had been seriously injured and had to have surgery when they stepped in an unmarked hole and broke their foot. That friend said an insurance company was trying to call and continued to call because they were trying to talk to the person who was hurt. They wanted to know should they let this insurance adjuster talk to their friend.
I explained to them that the answer was absolutely not. I said, “That insurance adjuster is calling with an agenda.” That agenda is to first see if they can take a recorded statement and get the person to say something while they’re still trying to get over their initial injury and pain. They’re trying to get that person to say something in a recorded statement that’s going to hurt their case.
In North Carolina, that can be particularly important because it’s very hard at times to win a premises case here because we have a legal doctrine called contributory negligence. That simply means that, even if you’re 1% at fault, you lose your case. The last thing anybody needs to do is to talk to an insurance adjuster before they have consulted with an attorney and before they’re even really able to think clearly because they’re still taking serious pain medication.
Instead, call our office. Let us know what’s going on. When you’re well enough, you can come and meet with us. We will evaluate your case and we’ll be there to answer your questions. While you’re getting well enough to simply come to our office, call our office and we can monitor your case for a period of time until you’re well enough to come to our office and we can really begin to get to work with your case.
Premises Liability Settlement Offers
Recently, someone in North Carolina called me to ask me if they should take the first settlement offer the insurance company made. In fact, what they really asked me was how can they deal with this insurance company when they’re making an unfair settlement offer. First of all, no, you never want to take an insurance company’s first settlement offer. The first settlement offer from an insurance company is designed to see if you’ll take the bait. Insurance companies like to take money in, and they absolutely hate paying money out.
The first offer they’re going to make is not going to be an offer that they expect to really pay. They’re hoping that you’ll take the bait, but you never should take that bait. Instead, if you have a serious case, you need to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer in North Carolina and get the advice of an attorney who can assist you in how to deal with the insurance company. Call our office. We’ll be willing to give you a free consultation to explain what you might need to – what we might need to do to help you further.
Timeline for a Premises Liability Case
Recently, one of my clients was seriously injured in a premises case in which they couldn’t see a trip hazard that should have been eliminated, guarded against, or warned about and, as a result, had serious injuries that required surgery and even required hardware in their foot. Yet, the medical bills are mounting, the bill collectors are calling, and our client was being worn down by this. They wanted to know how long it would take for the case to resolve. Unfortunately, what we have to do is plan for the worst and hope for the best.
First of all, we have to prepare your case for trial because, in North Carolina, most premises cases have to go to trial. We have to show the people that did wrong here that you’re not going to be ambushed in trial. We have to show that we’re not going to give away our power in a settlement negotiation. The way we do that is to prepare for trial.
The second thing that has to happen is you have to complete your treatment. Your personal injury timeframe for resolving your case is tied into how long it takes you to heal. Your doctor is going to tell you that only time will heal your injuries. Then your doctor may say you may need a second surgery, or you may need surgery to take the hardware out. The timing of your case for resolution is linked to the time it takes your body to heal. Sometimes that’s not predictable, but even so, it may take a year or even a year and a half.
You can’t settle a personal injury case that came from a premises trip and fall where somebody didn’t guard against a trip hazard until you know what type of medical treatment you might need in the future. You don’t want to settle your case and then find out that you need another $50,000 surgery. It’s taxing and it’s frustrating, but the timing of your case is also dictated by how fast you heal.
Premises Liability Case Value
Recently, someone from North Carolina called me. They had been injured in a store that had a hole that should have been fixed, wasn’t fixed, and didn’t have an orange cone or flag to let people know the hole was there. They ended up having surgery. They had hardware in their foot. Their doctor said they might even need to have another surgery.
They’re being worn down. They’re receiving calls from the hospital because the bills need to be paid or the copay needs to be paid. They’re wondering, how long is this going to go on?
In order to fully evaluate a case and an injury like this, any experienced attorney needs to understand from the doctor and the medical records what your medical condition is. They need to understand whether you’re going to be able to walk on your foot properly again. They need to understand whether you’re going to have to have a second surgery and fuse your foot because the pain is so severe that you can hardly walk.
In order for them to understand that, you the patient have to go through the process of being treated by the doctor. It takes time for all of this medical process to occur and the healing to occur, so that we can see where you are and what you’re left with at the end of the process. These are the factors that a North Carolina attorney is going to look at in trying to evaluate your case. That type of evaluation can occur early on six weeks after you’ve been hurt.
It’s frustrating. We understand it is frustrating, but there’s a lot at stake. Are you ever going to be able to stand? Are you ever going to be able to really walk around the mall with your wife without having to stop and sit down when she wants to keep going?
It’s that kind of thing that needs to be assessed. It’s that kind of thing that a jury is going to look at when they are rendering their verdict. We need to know where you are at the end of your treatment to be able to evaluate your case.
Hiring a Premises Liability Attorney
Recently, someone from North Carolina called my office about a horrible fall that had left them going through surgery and with hardware in their ankle. They were injured because something caused them to step into a hole and twist their foot when they didn’t see the hole. When you have a premises liability case in North Carolina, you need to look for three things. You need an attorney that’s going to understand the medicine in your case. When you have a serious injury where you have to have surgery and you have to have your foot put back together, you’re going to need someone that can communicate with the doctor and take the medical concepts that are involved in your case and make them simple: simple to explain to a jury, simple to explain to you, and simple to portray in a visual aid.
Second, you’re going to need an attorney that’s experienced with premises liability cases. The reason you’re going to need an attorney that’s experienced is because, in North Carolina, we have a very harsh law called contributory negligence. That’s lawyer talk, but essentially, that means that you’re going to be blamed for not looking where you were going. You’re going to be told that this was your fault.
You’re going to be told that, even if you were there to spend your money at those premises, or you were there to deliver goods that someone at those premises had ordered, or you were there because you were invited to be there. The owner of those premises and the controller of those premises didn’t guard against you falling into the hole or stepping into the hole, and they didn’t warn anyone about it. You need an attorney that understands how falls occur. The third thing you’re going to need is you’re going to need expert witnesses that =understand how falls occur and can explain that to judges when they’re looking to see whether this was your fault and whether your case should be kicked out of court.
Filing an Accident Report for a Premises Liability Injury
Recently, someone called me from a store where they had slipped on produce that should have been cleaned up and wasn’t cleaned up. When they fell, they got hurt. They wondered, should I report this to the store manager? Should I make the store manager write a report? I told them they needed to go back to that store before too much time elapsed. They should report it and they should make the store write up a report.
This is important for a lot of different reasons. Number one, it is your opportunity to explain how you got hurt and to document that you’ve gotten hurt. The next thing you need to do is, if you’re seriously injured, you need to go to a doctor before too much time elapses. That’s another way to document your injury. It’s another form of reporting an injury.
Above all, when you fall on the premises, whether it’s a store or even if it’s at a friend’s, you need to document how your injury occurred. If it’s at a store, you need to make a manager write up a report. You need to read that report to make sure they write it up correctly. If it’s at a friend’s, if necessary, you go and get medical treatment. You explain how you got hurt there. Then if you have to, you write a letter; better yet, contact an attorney and get an attorney to help you document your injury, in the event your friends won’t document it for you.
Defendant’s Awareness of the Hazard
Recently, someone called my office and wanted to know what they could do, since a store claimed they didn’t have any notice about a trip hazard in their store that had injured this person. When this situation occurs, the store owner is really being what we called disingenuous or, to put it more simply, they’re just being fake. The reality is, a store owner has a duty to inspect for trip hazards on a periodic basis to make sure that a trip hazard doesn’t develop that they’re not aware of so that they can eliminate that trip hazard. When a store owner says that they weren’t aware, what it really means is they weren’t doing the proper inspections. They weren’t doing inspections on a periodic, regular basis, so that they could become aware of hazards.
If you have encountered that type of store owner, this means they are going to attempt to wiggle out of their responsibility to you. If you’ve had a serious injury and you’ve got serious medical problems, you need to contact an experienced premises liability attorney right away to take steps to protect yourself from a store and store manager looking to get out of the case by saying they didn’t really have notice, when they know they’re supposed to do periodic inspections. That’s disingenuous; that’s fake. You need an experienced attorney. Give us a call and don’t wait.
Call Our Richmond County, NC Premises Liability Lawyer Today
A landowner in North Carolina has a duty to prevent injuries from happening to their visitors. If you’re hurt because a landowner was negligent and that lead you to be seriously injured, please call us today. Our Richmond County, NC premises liability lawyer H Bright Lindler is here to help you navigate the legal process and get through any challenges you may encounter.
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