When you enter someone’s business establishment or their home, you do not expect to leave seriously injured. Yet, in a flash, you can get hurt due to the negligence of a property owner. A shopping trip or lazy day in the pool should not result in a slip on a wet floor or a trip over a hazard. Premises liability law covers many different accidents. The experienced Minnesota personal injury attorneys at Kirshbaum Injury Law can help you get the compensation you deserve. Let us fight for your rights so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. Request a free consultation today by calling (952) 545-2700 or completing the online contact form.
Premises liability is a type of personal injury law that holds property owners responsible for injuries that result from unsafe conditions on their property.
The legal duty that a property owner owes to someone on their premises depends on the status of the visitor. Property owners owe a higher duty of care to someone that they have invited onto their premises, as opposed to someone who is trespassing.
The duty of care to someone invited onto one’s property includes:
Businesses that are open to the public, such as stores and restaurants, typically owe the highest duty of care to their customers. Homeowners are also responsible for preventing harm to people they invite onto their property or into their homes. This includes social visitors and people who enter the premises for work purposes, such as contractors or meter readers.
Traditionally, a property owner in Minnesota owes no duty of care to people who enter their property without permission, although this is no longer always the case. Permission can be:
An obvious example of a trespasser is someone who enters someone’s property without their knowledge or permission. A person who had a property owner’s permission to enter for a specific reason could become a trespasser if they exceed the permission that the owner gave them. For example, if a homeowner hires someone to mow their front yard, that person would become a trespasser if they enter the back yard or the home without additional permission from the homeowner.
Property owners could still have a duty of care to trespassers to repair or warn about known dangerous conditions. Minnesota personal injury law holds property owners liable for injuries suffered by trespassers due to “attractive nuisances,” which are features that property owners know could cause serious injuries and are likely to attract trespassers, particularly children. Swimming pools and trampolines, for example, can cause broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, or fatalities.
“Obviousness” is a common defense raised by property owners in premises liability claims. Minnesota’s comparative fault law, discussed in more detail below, reduces the amount of a property owner’s liability when an injured person is partly at fault for their own injuries. If a hazardous condition is so obvious that the injury victim should have noticed and avoided it, they could be partially at fault.
Another common defense is “assumption of risk.” This may occur when someone engages in an activity that is so obviously dangerous that any reasonable person would realize that they are risking serious injury. Businesses that permit people to engage in dangerous activities often provide disclaimers or ask customers to sign waivers of liability based on assumption of risk.
Property owners can be liable for a wide range of accidents and injuries.
Under Minnesota law, a dog owner may be liable for injuries caused when the dog attacks or bites a person “without provocation.” The person must have been “acting peaceably in any place where the person may lawfully be.”
Some states only impose liability on a dog owner when they know that the dog has the potential to bite someone. This is sometimes known as the “one bite rule” because it does not hold a dog owner liable until after the first bite. Minnesota has a “strict liability” standard for dog bite injuries. State law holds a dog owner liable for injuries even if they did not believe there was any risk of the dog attacking someone.
A slip and fall accident occurs when a person slips or trips because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. Common slip and fall accidents include:
Slip and fall injuries can range from minor bruising to broken bones or traumatic brain injuries.
A property owner may be liable for injuries caused by a fire on their premises if they knew about the risk of fire but did nothing to address the problem. Possible examples may include:
Swimming pools are the scene of countless accidents and injuries in Minnesota and throughout the world. A property owner’s responsibility for swimming pool injuries depends, in part, on whether they operate it as part of a business, such as a pool at a hotel or gym. Owners have a duty to:
Homeowners also have a duty to prevent injuries in and around their swimming pools. The “attractive nuisance” rule described above often involves injuries that occur when children trespass in an unsecured pool. Many laws and ordinances address enclosures for residential pools. The Minneapolis Code of Ordinances, for example, requires “a fence, wall, building or other enclosure or any combination thereof” to prevent unauthorized access to a residential pool.
Amusement parks often include rides that pose enormous risks of injury. Park owners and operators have a legal duty to provide a safe environment. Rollercoasters and other rides are only supposed to create the illusion of risk while keeping guests reasonably safe.
Accidents may result from:
Amusement parks frequently include multiple warnings to guests about avoiding injuries. Guests who do not follow the park’s guidance could be partly at fault for their own injuries under Minnesota law.
A property owner’s duty of care includes the responsibility to maintain premises in a reasonably safe condition. This duty applies to both business owners and homeowners. Examples of maintenance obligations may include:
After a slip and fall accident, you can take several steps to protect yourself and your claim for personal injury damages. The following list of steps offers general guidance. Your own health and safety should be the top priority after a fall.
If you are able to do so, look around to see if you can find what caused the slip and fall accident. Look for spills, tripping hazards, or other dangerous conditions.
Take pictures of the accident scene and your injuries if possible.
Witnesses who can corroborate your account of what happened will be helpful in your premises liability claim.
This might be the first thing you need to do after a slip and fall injury, depending on your condition. If you have a broken bone or you hit your head, for example, medical care should be your top priority.
If your slip and fall occurred at a business, they may want you to submit a report detailing what happened. Many businesses have preprinted forms that they ask you to fill out. You should not limit yourself to the information requested by the form, since a business may try to get you to omit important information. Your report should include the date, time, location, and circumstances of the accident; a description of your injuries; and the names of witnesses. A Minnesota slip and fall accident lawyer can help you prepare the report.
An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of making a slip and fall claim. They can deal with insurance companies and their attorneys on your behalf.
Minnesota sets a deadline, or statute of limitations, for bringing a lawsuit for personal injuries. For slip and fall cases and other premises liability claims, the statute of limitations is six years from the date of the injury.
Minnesota’s comparative fault law reduces the amount of an accident victim’s damage award if a jury finds that they were partly at fault for their injuries. They may still recover damages as long as their share of fault was less than 50%.
Suppose that a plaintiff suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident with $75,000 in total damages. The jury found that the property owner was at fault, but also found that the plaintiff, who was distracted by their cellphone at the time of the fall, shared one-third of the fault. The court would reduce the plaintiff’s damage award by one-third, to $50,000.
Multiple types of damages are available in slip and fall cases.
You can recover medical expenses associated with your injuries as damages in a slip and fall claim.
If your injuries caused you to miss work while you received medical treatment or worked on rehabilitation, you are entitled to damages for the income that you lost.
You can also recover damages for the physical and emotional pain that you have experienced because of your injuries. This is a type of “non-economic damage,” meaning that its purpose is not to compensate you for monetary losses, but rather for the impact of your injuries on your quality of life.
When you have suffered injuries because of dangerous conditions on someone’s property, dealing with insurance companies is probably the last thing you want to do. A premises liability attorney can relieve you of that burden by handling the insurance companies, negotiating a settlement, and making sure you have the right evidence for an insurance claim or lawsuit.
The premises liability accident attorneys at Kirshbaum Injury Law have decades of experience helping people recover compensation for their injuries. Request a free consultation today by calling (952) 545-2700 or completing the online contact form.
Personal injury attorney James Kirshbaum gives you pointers on what to do after a Slip-and-Fall injury to ensure you achieve maximum compensation.