Premises Liability Lawyer in Harrisonburg, VA
All property owners in Virginia are legally obligated to keep their premises safe for lawful visitors. When they fail to repair safety hazards, innocent people can suffer terrible injuries that result in expensive medical bills and time missed at work. A Virginia premises liability attorney’s job is to help you recover the money you need after an accident on someone else’s property.
The Harrisonburg premises liability attorneys at Kendall Law Firm have defended the rights of injured Virginians for more than 30 years. As a United States Marine Corps veteran, attorney David Kendall knows the value of commitment and service to others, and these values inform our approach to every case we handle. Contact us today to learn how we can help. The first consultation is free.
What is Premises Liability?
It is a legal concept that says landowners should be held accountable if they fail to keep their property safe for visitors. If you get hurt on someone else’s property because of a hazardous condition they did not address, Virginia premises liability law gives you the right to file an insurance claim or lawsuit against them.
You cannot hold a property owner liable for any injury suffered on their premises, though. To recover compensation through a premises liability claim, you must demonstrate that the property owner was negligent or deliberately harmful in some way based on the preponderance of the evidence. You cannot recover compensation for injuries that were your fault, regardless of whose property you were on at the time of your injury.
Types of Virginia Premises Liability Accidents
Our Harrisonburg personal injury lawyers have experience with many kinds of premises liability cases, including:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Stairwell accidents
- Sidewalk accidents
- Amusement park incidents
- Accidents at sports venues
- Dog bites
- Parking lot and parking garage accidents
- Retail store accidents
- Restaurant accidents
- Ceiling collapses
- Structural collapses
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Negligent security
- Injuries caused by poor lighting
- Accidents caused by faulty electrical wiring
- Injuries caused by flying or falling objects
Common Premises Liability Injuries
Premises liability accidents in Harrisonburg often cause significant injuries, such as:
- Spinal cord injury
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- External injuries to the head and face
- Internal organ damage
- Back injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Soft tissue injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Electrocution injuries
- Psychological distress
The Property Owner’s Duty of Care
Virginia premises liability law holds that owners have a duty of care toward visitors on their premises. However, the extent of that duty depends on the relationship between the visitor and the property owner.
Visitors consist of three distinct groups:
- Invitees – An invitee is someone who is on another person’s property with the owner’s permission and for the owner’s financial gain. Examples of invitees include restaurant patrons, customers in retail stores, and workers hired to improve or fix a property. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care. They must warn invitees of known dangers on the property, and they can be held liable for injuries caused by hazards they knew about or should reasonably have known about.
- Licensees – A licensee is someone who is on another person’s property for either the licensee’s benefit or the mutual benefit of the owner and licensee. When friends visit your home, they are licensees on your property. Property owners must warn licensees about known hazards and can be held liable for injuries caused by them. However, licensees cannot claim compensation caused by hazards the property owner was unaware of.
- Trespassers – A trespasser is someone who goes on another person’s property without permission. Property owners owe a minimal duty to trespassers. They can only be held liable if a trespasser is injured due to a property owner’s willful or intentional actions. For example, if a property owner deliberately sets a trap for trespassers or left hazards easily accessible to children between ages seven and 14, they could be held liable for the trespasser’s injuries.
Premises Liability Law in Virginia
Many of the definitions and rules used in Virginia cases are the result of court decisions over the years. Still, there are a few specific laws you should know.
These laws include:
- Code of Virginia Section 8.01-219.1– This law bars trespassers from suing property owners after a premises liability accident except in a handful of specific circumstances.
- Code of Virginia Section 8.01-250 – This law limits the time you have to file a lawsuit based on work or improvements to the property. If more than five years have passed since the work was completed, you cannot sue anyone involved in designing, planning, surveying, supervising, or doing the construction work related to the project. (You may still have a case against the property owner, though.)
- Code of Virginia Section 29.1-509 – This law outlines the duties of property owners who allow hunters, visitors, sightseers, and other visitors to their land for outdoor recreation. There are several provisions in this law, but the gist is that hunters, fishermen, and other visitors for outdoor recreation cannot sue the property owner for injuries caused by hazards on the premises.
Talk to an experienced premises liability lawyer if you have questions about how Virginia’s laws apply to your case.
Filing a Virginia Premises Liability Lawsuit
If you suffered an injury because of a hazardous condition on someone else’s property, you could be eligible to demand compensation for the harm you’ve suffered by filing a lawsuit. Most cases never reach the trial stage, even after you file a suit. Instead, negotiating a settlement with the property owner and their insurance company is usually effective. Resolving your premises liability case through an insurance settlement means you can avoid the risk and expense of a trial.
However, the possibility of a lawsuit can play a key role in bringing an insurance company to the negotiating table. Without the threat of a lawsuit that could legally compel them to pay up, an insurance company might simply refuse your demands.
If you wish to file a lawsuit, the statute of limitations on such actions is two years from the date of your injury. Make sure to meet the deadline, or you could lose your chance at recovering compensation for your injuries.
Contact Our Experienced Harrisonburg Premises Liability Lawyers
Were you hurt on someone else’s property? If so, a Harrisonburg premises liability attorney at Kendall Law Firm can help. Contact us today for a free initial consultation about your premises liability case.