Suing a grocery store after a slip and fall in aisle 3 is more than a plotline in a television show. Specific laws in every state are designed to protect those injured on someone else’s property. What many may not realize is that these same laws – premises liability – also apply to residential property. If you are hurt, even at your best friend’s home, you may be entitled to compensation for the resulting damage.
What Is Premises Liability?
This legal concept basically means that the owner or lawful occupant has a responsibility to keep their property in a safe condition. In personal injury cases that include premises liability issues, the owner failed to uphold their duty to exercise reasonable care in keeping their property safe for others.
Limitations of Premises Liability
Not every injury is a candidate for a lawsuit. The property owner has no duty of care to protect others from dangers that are obvious or well known to the person who was injured. In other words, a reasonable visitor should have taken notice of the danger and taken steps to avoid it. In addition, suffering an injury alone is not grounds for compensation. You must demonstrate that the property owner failed to take proper steps to repair the situation even though they knew or should reasonably have known that the premise was unsafe.
Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitation in civil court is a state law that sets a time limit on when you have the right to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. West Virginia law sets a two-year statute of limitations in personal injury cases, beginning at the date of injury.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
Slips and falls are among the most common causes for seeking compensation, but there are many others, including:
- Dog Bites
- Defective Conditions on the Property
- Snow and Ice Accidents
- Swimming Pool Accidents
- Inadequate Property Maintenance
Potential Damages in West Virginia Personal Injury Cases
Possible damage awards vary by state and type of injury. West Virginia places no caps on economic damages but does cap non-economic and punitive damages in premises liability and other personal injury cases.
- The damage cap for non-economic damages is $250,000 (elevates to $500,000 in catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases). Non-economic damages include emotional distress, pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of quality of life.
- Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, physical therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and property damage. There are no caps on this type of compensation.
- Most states, including West Virginia, allow for punitive damages. The cap in our state is $500,000 or up to four times the amount of compensatory (economic and non-economic) damages. Punitive damages are meant to punish the responsible party for the purpose of keeping anyone else from being hurt by similar actions.
In addition to the above guidelines, courts also consider the degree to which the injured party contributed to the accident. The Mountain State uses a modified comparative negligence law. If you are determined to be 30% at fault, for example, your award will be reduced by 30%. If you are determined to be 50% or more at fault, no damages are awarded.
Have Experience on Your Side
At Katz, Kantor, Stonestreet & Buckner, we have represented the needs of West Virginians for 85 years. Our experience spans auto accidents, negligence, medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, and more. We are advocates for those who have been injured, fighting for fair compensation on their behalf.
In addition to our extensive experience, we are different from most other firms in how we base our fees. We only take a percentage of money recovered above the initial offer from the insurance company, not off the whole amount you recover. Our firm’s attorneys are licensed in multiple jurisdictions and represent clients throughout West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky.
If you feel you may be entitled to compensation, call us today at (304) 713-2014 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and learn more about next steps.