PREMISES LIABILITY (SLIP, TRIP, & FALL)
This section deals with the liability in negligence of owners and possessors of land. The duty of a land possessor to prevent harm to someone on his or her property depends on the legal status of the person harmed, i.e., whether the person was a trespasser, licensee or invitee.
A trespasser is a person who enters and remains upon land in the possession of another without a privilege to do so. In a typical case involving a trespasser, the trespasser may not recover monetary damages unless the landowner has been guilty of some willful or wanton disregard for the trespasser’s safety. In other words, landowners are not required to exercise reasonable care for a trespasser’s safety when there is no reason to anticipate a presence of a trespasser.
A possessor of land owes a higher degree of care to a licensee, as compared to a trespasser. A licensee is a person who has permission to enter or use another’s premises, but only for his or her own purposes and not for the occupier’s benefit (such as a social guest); the occupier has a duty to warn the licensee of any dangerous conditions known to the occupier but unknown to the licensee. The landowner’s duty is satisfied by and adequate warning; he need not maintain the land in a safe condition. When a child is considered a licensee, the landowner’s duty is different. Where an adult may appreciate the danger associated with the warning, a child may not. As such, a landowner should exercise such care as a reasonably prudent person would exercise toward children under similar circumstances.
An invitee is owed the greatest amount of care by a landowner because the invitee has not only been given permission to enter upon the land, but has been invited under circumstances which imply an assurance that reasonable care has been taken for his safety while on the premises. Thus, a possessor who holds his land open to the public, and invites, encourages, or induces the entry, confers invitee status upon the visitor. A possessor of land has no duty to protect from dangers known or obvious to the invitee, unless the possessor should expect harm to result despite the invitee’s awareness.
Generally, if a person has a viable premises liability claim, they may recover a monetary award for “damages” sustained because of the incident. Here are some general types of damages, which may be recovered by an injured person, depending on the facts and circumstances of the case:
- Pain and Suffering
- Reasonable Expenses of Necessary Medical Care
- Lost Earnings
- Loss of Earning Capacity
- Property Damage
- Punitive Damages
In order to legally recover damages, however, there are two general requirements that an injured person must meet: (1) The damages must relate to the incident; and (2) the person must be entitled to recover the damages. In other words, the injured person must show that the “at-fault” party was negligent and the negligence was the cause of the injured person’s injuries and damages. There are certain prerequisites in law that each person (invitees, licensees, trespassers) must meet in order that they can proceed with a claim or lawsuit against a possessor of land. These issues are normally too complicated for a laymen or inexperienced attorney to handle without assistance. An experienced attorney in this area of law should always be consulted to investigate and assist an injured person to help prosecute their claim.
As a general rule, if a person is injured on another’s property in Arizona , a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date of the accident to preserve the claim. However, there are exceptions to this general rule. For instance, if the injury was caused by an employee of a public/governmental entity (such as a federal, state, county or city employee), or if it occurred on property owned or possessed by a public/governmental entity, then other time limitations and statutory provisions come to play. In these cases, the time limitations and statutory provisions must be strictly adhered to, or the case could be forever barred and the injured person would not be able to seek relief in the courts. Another exception is when minors or incompetent people are injured; or when the injured person was injured while on the job and there is a Workers Compensation claim pending. An experienced attorney should always be consulted about all aspects of the case, including the time limitations imposed by law, call us now! 928-718-8888