As a property owner, you know there are certain things you must do to protect your clients, visitors or tenants from harm. For example, having appropriate fire escapes and smoke detectors can save lives in the event of a fire. You may also take special care to avoid hazards that would cause someone to slip or trip and take a bad fall. Above all, you carry adequate insurance in case such an accident occurs despite your precautions.
If you do find yourself facing a slip-and-fall claim from a visitor to your property, you will not want to simply accept the claim and pay the compensation since this could result in higher insurance rates and damage to your company's reputation. Instead, you will want to investigate the circumstances to ensure that the plaintiff has a valid claim.
Are you liable for someone's injuries?
While slip-and-fall cases are often difficult to prove, Louisiana and other states follow the general guidelines from the American Law Institute. The laws related to these guidelines define a property owner's liability for someone's fall injuries if the following conditions exist:
- You, as the landowner, knew about a hazard on your property.
- If you were not aware of the hazard, you should have known about it if you had taken reasonable care.
- You should have realized that visitors to your property were vulnerable to injury because of the danger.
- You did not take appropriate steps to protect your visitors from the hazard.
If someone falls and suffers injury on your property, it may be despite the fact that the hazard was a danger that any reasonable person would have recognized and avoided. This is known as the "open and obvious" defense. This option can undergo vast interpretations in court, so you would be wise to have skilled legal assistance to help you build your defense.
You have the right to fight
Someone who claims to suffer injuries on your property may seek compensation from you. Perhaps the accident did not really occur. Perhaps the extent of the plaintiff's injuries was not as severe as he or she claims. Understandably, a customer who goes to the trouble to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit against you will want to maximize any claim for compensation. However, if this means exaggerating the extent of his or her injuries or even lying about them, you have a right to protect yourself and your company.
You do not have to carry the burden on your own. You can find an advocate in an attorney who is not afraid to fight for you.