Premises liability applies to homeowners, business owners, landlords, and tenants alike, although it has various applications in each setting. Laws protect you from unlawful injury due to someone else’s negligence, whether it’s a slip and fall or a dog bite. 

Today’s blog takes a deep dive into premises liability law with a specific focus on how the settlement process works. Keep reading to learn more about premises liability settlements and how you and your attorney can navigate them. 

What is the Basis for Premises Liabilities? 

Premises liability happens when there’s an injury caused by unsafe or defective conditions on someone’s property. There are four requirements for establishing premises liability:

  • Ownership of the property – You must be able to prove that the person owned, occupied, or leased the property at the time the injury occurred. If you can’t prove this, you don’t have a premises liability lawsuit.
  • Negligence – You must be able to prove that the individual neglected their property and that that negligence caused your injury. For example, an icy walkway outside a business where you slip and fall could be a premises liability.
  • Presence of an Injury – Say you broke your wrist slipping on that ice. In that case, you’d have premises liability. However, if you fell but sustained no injuries, you wouldn’t have met that requirement.
  • Impact of Negligence – Finally, you must prove the connection that your injury was due to the property owner’s negligence. You visited that business, fell on their property, and broke your wrist. Connect those dots, and you have premises liability. 

While falling and breaking your wrist is a strong example of premises liability, it’s not the only one. Other examples include:

  • Security-related issues
  • Unsafe escalators, elevators, and staircases
  • Other unsafe conditions, such as a ceiling collapsing
  • Animal bites
  • Restaurant and retail liability
  • Inadequate maintenance

Invitees vs. Licensees vs. Trespassers

Now, just because you set foot on someone’s property does not mean they are liable for your injuries. There are three categories of visitors and laws dictating liability accordingly. 

  • Invitees are individuals whom you’ve invited onto your property, whether directly or indirectly. For example, say you’re a business owner with customers shopping, or you’re simply going to work. You have the right to inhabit the premises safely.
  • Licensees are visitors you’ve invited to your home. A friend coming over for dinner is an example. Licensees are friends, while invitees are for commercial reasons.
  • Trespassers are visitors who aren’t allowed on your property. You’re not liable for their injuries if you post a sign warning trespassers of potential dangers. For example, posting a warning sign that you have dogs means you won’t be liable if a trespasser is bitten, provided the dog is behind a fence it can’t get over. 

Now that we’ve established the basis of how premises liability works, let’s look at the steps involved in a settlement. While some cases go to trial, many are settled outside the courtroom with favorable results, saving everyone time and money.

How Do Premises Liability Settlements Work? 

Say that your broken wrist required surgery, putting you out of commission for weeks. Instead of going to trial to prove what happened and having a judge or jury decide whether you receive compensation for your pain and suffering, you reach an agreement between yourself and the party responsible for your injuries.

In a settlement, both parties come to an agreement with very specific terms, which are written out and signed by both parties. This signed agreement is legally binding. It’s the same as if it were in the courtroom, decided by a jury. You must follow the terms of the settlement. 

Depending on the jurisdiction in which you live, the agreement is legally binding either when both parties have signed it or when a judge signs it. Your lawyer will know what jurisdiction you’re in and can explain how your settlement will work, so you won’t need to worry about those details.

The settlement agreement terms are then carried out, following any and all instructions listed in the settlement. Settlements are often very specific, giving deadlines and instructions for when and how you must do things.

For example, say you receive a settlement of $50,000. The settlement agreement would state when you receive that money and how it will be paid. 

Negotiating Settlement Terms

You’ll likely negotiate the settlement terms over several hours or days. Sometimes — but rarely — an agreement is made immediately. However, it’s unlikely that the other party will want to give you the monetary amount you’re requesting. Chances are, they will negotiate lower terms. 

This is why, in many cases, the injured party will request more than they want in hopes that they’ll settle for the amount they really want. 

Either way, while you might not receive the exact amount you want, settling is better than not receiving anything at all or going to trial and having the jury rule in favor of the other party. Your lawyer will guide you through this part of the settlement process. 

Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson Can Help

Premise liability law protects licensees, invitees, and even some trespassers who are wrongfully injured on public or private property. If you believe you have a premises liability case, contact Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson. 

With over 150 years of experience in personal injury law, the lawyers at Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson are well-equipped to represent you. We’ll fight for you to get the compensation you deserve for the pain and suffering resulting from the premise liability. 

With offices located in West Jordan and Provo, our team of experienced lawyers will provide a free case evaluation, where we’ll go over the details of your case and see how we can best represent you. Call us at 801.500.4000 or contact us through our website to schedule your free case evaluation and see how Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson can help you.