You might not expect to suffer an injury when you enter a restaurant, grocery store, or neighbor’s house. However, accidents can happen, and often the injured person faces substantial medical bills and emotional distress while they miss work to recover. Premises liability laws in Arizona protect your right to compensation when someone else is responsible for your accident. Learn how these laws may apply to your case.
What Are Premises Liability Laws?
Premises liability is a legal concept that establishes a duty for property owners or occupiers to maintain safe conditions for lawful visitors. This applies to commercial and residential properties, holding the owners accountable if they expose people to dangerous conditions that cause injuries. The purpose of these laws is to encourage property owners to maintain a reasonably safe space.
Examples of Premises Liability Cases
Every premises liability case has unique circumstances. However, some common examples of valid personal injury incidents include the following:
- Employees fail to clean up a spill or place warning signage in a restaurant, and a patron slips, falls, and suffers an injury.
- A homeowner ignores a loose railing on their stairway, which collapses, causing a visitor to fall down the stairs.
- A business fails to fix a broken elevator or place an “out of service” sign on the door, and someone suffers an injury in an elevator accident.
- A supermarket fails to replace broken tiles, and a customer trips and falls.
- Fire safety or code violations result in a house or building fire, exposing visitors to smoke inhalation or burns.
Equipment malfunctions, broken lights, exposed wires, parking lot potholes, assault or injury related to poor security, and broken steps or sidewalks are just a few more examples of possible causes of premises liability cases. When you can prove that the property owner violated premises liability laws, you can seek compensation for the losses related to your injuries.
Who Are Property Owners Responsible for Protecting?
The level of responsibility a property owner has for someone’s safety varies depending on a few factors, including the property type and whether the injured person was an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. The law also offers slightly more protection for children, even those trespassing when an incident occurs.
The Difference Between Invitees and Licensees
Invitees and licensees are lawful visitors to commercial and residential properties. When you enter a business, such as a grocery store, restaurant, or any shop open to the public for business, you are an invitee. According to the law, the property owner or manager gave you the implied permission to enter the property, making your presence lawful and establishing that the owner owes a duty of care.
The label of invitee also applies to delivery persons and anyone else without a personal reason to enter the property. In most cases, a delivery person or someone entering under the scope of their job would likely have access to compensation through a workers’ comp claim rather than a personal injury claim. However, they could still sue the property owner through a third-party lawsuit.
A licensee enters a property by express or implied invitation and for socialization. Licensees may include family and friends who are visiting the home of a family member, neighbor, or friend. Injured licensees are often reluctant to file a personal injury claim. However, with the help of an attorney, you can typically settle quickly through the insurance provider and with little involvement from the person with whom you have a personal relationship.
Trespassers enter a property unlawfully and generally have no protection under premises liability law unless the property owner intentionally causes danger. However, when the trespasser is a child, the property owner owes some duty of care. For example, if the owner has a swimming pool or playground and leaves the fence unlocked, allowing a child to wander in, they could be liable for injuries and damages. This is because of the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine established to avoid accidents involving children.
How Do You Prove a Violation of Premises Liability Laws?
As the injured person, you are responsible for proving the property owner’s negligence in a premises liability case. A valid claim must establish four elements to show negligence and a right to compensation:
- Duty of care. The property owner lawfully owed you a duty to keep their property reasonably safe while you visited.
- Breached duty. The property owner did not uphold their commitment.
- Causation. Their breach of duty resulted in the accident that caused your injuries.
- Damages. You suffered losses as a direct result of your injuries.
While premises liability laws are clear in Arizona, establishing a breach of duty of care is sometimes complex. An experienced Phoenix premises liability attorney can help you gather the evidence you need to build your claim.
Comparative Negligence in Arizona
Arizona’s comparative negligence law governs personal injury claims where both parties are responsible for the accident and resulting damages. According to this law, if you share the blame, you are still eligible for recovering a portion of the available damages.
For example, if you are 20% at fault for the accident and have $10,000 in damages, you can still recover $8,000 from the other liable party. Most personal injury cases end in settlement rather than going to trial. In such cases, the comparative negligence rule will still play a role in negotiations with the insurance company. An attorney can help you evaluate your role in the accident and what could be a fair percentage of fault.
How Can an Attorney Help You Apply Premises Liability Laws to Your Case?
A legal representative takes over the responsibilities of your case while you focus on healing. You can avoid the stress of dealing with the insurance company and gathering documentation to prove negligence and damages.
At Sargon Law Group, our Phoenix personal injury lawyers understand the financial, physical, and emotional struggles people face in the aftermath of a severe accident. We charge no upfront fees for our services to ensure you have the legal help you need without adding to your financial strain. Contact Sargon Law Group to learn more about premises liability laws and schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney today.