Can I Sue If I’m Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
You might be considering a lawsuit after a slip and fall, swimming pool accident, elevator accident, injury caused by an amusement park ride, or some other property-related injury. Can you sue if you are injured on someone else’s property?
Property owners have a legal responsibility to keep the environment safe, so people who enter the property don’t get injured. (This area of the law is known as “premises liability.”) As a result, in many cases, it’s possible to sue.
However, there are important exceptions.
Today, we’re taking a look at injuries that happen on someone else’s property. We’ll explain when you can sue, what exceptions might prevent you from bringing a claim, and more.
Keep reading to learn more!
Premises Liability 101
In order to successfully bring a premises liability claim, you need to prove that the property owner or third party is legally liable and at fault for your injuries. There are a number of things that affect how liability is determined, including:
- The actions of the owner
- The actions of the visitor
- The legal status of the visitor
- Whether or not the visitor was a child
- Whether or not the visitor was a recreational user
Let’s take a look at each.
Did the owner exercise reasonable care to maintain safety?
As we mentioned above, property owners are responsible for exercising reasonable care to keep the property safe. A property owner can be held responsible for a visitor’s injuries if one of the following is true:
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition, or
- Must have known about the danger and didn’t repair it, or
- Should have known about the dangerous condition because a reasonable person would have found and repaired it.
“Reasonable care” can be subjective. When determining what is “reasonable,” the court will look at how the property is used, how foreseeable the accident and injuries were, and to what extent (if any) the property owner tried to warn visitors of the danger.
For example, a “reasonable” property owner should know that a spill is an obvious slip and fall hazard. They should take action to clean it up promptly and, in the meantime, install a wet floor sign to warn visitors of the hazard. Knowing of the spill and doing nothing would be an example of negligence.
If the property owner was negligent in their duty, they can be found liable for your injuries.
Did your actions contribute to your injury?
As with many other areas of the law, it matters how much you contributed to your injuries. To win your claim, the property owner (or third party) must have been at fault for your injuries.
If you were the one at fault for your injuries—for example, you slipped and fell because you were texting, not because the property had a fall hazard—you would not be able to hold the property owner liable.
Were you allowed to be on the premises?
Property owners are responsible for maintaining a safe environment so that visitors aren’t injured; however, as a general rule, they aren’t legally liable for the injuries of trespassers.
If the property owner knows that trespassers are likely to come onto the property, they only have a duty to warn the trespassers of injury. (This is the case in situations where the property owner created artificial and potentially hazardous conditions—for example, at a construction site.)
Was the injured person a child?
Children are treated differently under premises liability law. This is because the law recognizes that children aren’t able to fully understand danger. As a result, property owners have a special duty to children, called the “attractive nuisance” doctrine.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, if a property owner knows that children are likely to visit the property, they must take special care to warn children of dangers and remedy hazardous conditions.
The most common example of an attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. Children are attracted to swimming pools—so much fun!—and don’t recognize the danger. Property owners are responsible for protecting children from accidental drowning by securing the swimming pool, even if those children are trespassing. (Children are exempt from being considered “trespassers” under the attractive nuisance doctrine.)
Were you a recreational user?
Under Ohio’s “recreational user” law, private property owners can be protected from liability when someone is injured on their property during recreational activities. This includes activities like hunting, fishing, trapping, camping, hiking, swimming, operating an ATV, etc.
This law doesn’t apply to residences. However, it does apply to land, waters, buildings, and structures of the property.
If you were injured while performing a recreational activity on private, open land, you may not be able to sue.
Get Answers for Your Premises Liability Case
If you’re not sure if you can sue after being injured on someone else’s property, contact Casper & Casper. Our firm’s experienced and dedicated attorneys are happy to answer your questions and discuss your options. If you want to bring a claim, we’re here to fight on your behalf for the compensation you need and deserve.
Call us today for a free consultation.