Premises liability is the term used in Missouri to describe the legal responsibility that property owners have for accidents or injuries that occur on their property. Premises liability cases may occur in a variety of ways. For example, a property owner may be liable if an individual slips on a spilled drink in the middle of a restaurant floor, trips on a crack in business parking lot or gets struck by an object falling off of a shelf in a supermarket. There are many other dangerous conditions that can cause a slip, trip and fall, an accident, or injuries, for example:
- Uneven or cracked surfaces
- Faulty stairs, due to missing handrails or poor lighting
- Ice covered sidewalks or parking lots
- Wet floors
- Damaged or exposed electrical wiring
- Faulty elevators
- Negligence by pet owners, which allows dog bites or other attack to occur
- Inadequate security in buildings or parking ramps, which lead to an assault
In each of these instances, premises liability exists if the property owner knew of the dangerous condition and failed to remedy the condition, properly warn of its presence, or otherwise protect those lawfully on the property from being injured as a result of the dangerous condition.
The level of care that a property owner or possessor owes to another (called a “duty”) often depends on whether the injured party was an invitee, licensee or trespasser. Missouri law defines these terms in detail, but generally the following definitions are true:
- Invitee: Someone who is invited onto the property, generally for a business purpose.
- Licensee: Someone who is invited onto the property for social purposes.
- Trespasser: Someone who is not invited onto the property and is present without permission.
Under Missouri law, invitees and licensees are owed a duty of reasonable care for the safety of their visit. A lesser duty is owed to a trespasser.
Missouri law requires four elements to be present in order to have a successful premises liability claim: (1) the property owner must have been in possession of the premises or property that the injury or accident occurred on; (2) you must have been an invitee or licensee on the premises; (3) there must have been some negligence or wrongful act on the part of the property owner; and (4) that negligence or wrongful act must have resulted in some injury to you.
Frequently, premises liability situations occur when someone is injured by a dangerous condition on a public sidewalk or roadway, or in a public building. Missouri law may allow for a claim to be brought against the State or the local municipality which is in charge of the property in these circumstances. If the accident and injury occurs on federal property, the Federal Tort Claims Act may allow the U.S. Government to be sued. It is absolutely critical that you contact an attorney immediately if your injury occurs on government owned property as your statute of limitations to bring a claim for injuries may require notice to be given within 90 days of your injury.
A premises liability attorney will assist you through the legal system, and counsel you as to the value of your claims. Your premises liability lawyer will gather all information necessary to present your case favorably. This includes reviewing insurance information, talking to witnesses, investigating the accident scene, working with your physicians, and, if necessary, hiring expert consultants to assist a jury in fully understanding the accident or the resulting harms suffered. Your attorney will file the necessary pleadings to institute suit, make multiple court appearances to move your case towards trial, and ultimately present your case to a jury for a decision in the event a settlement can not be reached.
The attorneys at Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC have assisted many individuals to protect their legal rights in premises liability cases. The attorneys have settled and tried many different cases in state and federal courts. The attorneys are compensated for their time in a case through a “contingency fee” arrangement. The amount of the fee will depend on the type of case, its complexity and its anticipated value. There is no cost for an initial consultation to discuss your case.
If you need legal assistance, or for further information about a premises liability, personal injury, medical malpractice or wrongful death case, please contact Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, at (573) 686-2459. Our commitment is to earn your confidence by answering all questions and providing quality representation. If you need to contact one of our lawyers about another legal need, we may also be reached here.