Who Should A Premises Liability Lawsuit Be Made Against?

There are tens of thousands of personal injury lawsuits each year where victims who have been hurt seek financial restitution for an injury that someone else is responsible for causing. Usually, when we think of injury cases we think of traffic accidents or maybe work-related incidents, but premises liability lawsuits are one of the most common lawsuits heard in Canadian courts. In general, a premises liability case refers to any type of personal injury case where a person is injured on the property of another. That can be a person’s private residence, a company’s property, a construction site, or even public property. Just because you’re hurt on someone’s property, however, doesn’t mean that you can automatically file a lawsuit against them. 

In this article, we will explain who a premises liability lawsuit should be made against.

When Should a Premises Liability Lawsuit be Made against a Property Owner?

If you have sustained an injury in an accident on someone else’s property, you may be able to file a premises liability lawsuit. Every incident where a person sustains an injury has a unique set of circumstances, and it is these which will decide whether you are eligible to file for a premises liability lawsuit. The key factor involved is being able to assign blame onto the other party. As stated by Jeff Preszler a personal injury lawyer in Halifax, the law generally requires that you be able to establish that the owner of the property, or someone in control of it, was negligent in their conduct which resulted in your injuries. If you can establish this, then you will be entitled to compensation to recompense you for your injuries and other damages. This is true in Nova Scotia, where Jeff and his team are based and in all other Canadian provinces. Essentially, you have been injured because some issue with the property has caused you to be injured. This may be a wet floor, something sticking out of the wall, a shelf that is too low, a trip hazard, or any other feature of the property.

In What Situations would you be Deemed Responsible?

Of course, not every injury that was sustained on someone else’s property entitles you to take legal action against them. Many injuries result in the victim’s carelessness or reckless behavior and naturally, the law takes this into account. For example, the victims themselves would be held responsible if they were hurt as a result of a condition known as an open and obvious defect. This means that the hazard that caused the injuries was so clear and obvious that you should have seen it and avoided it. Simply put, you are deemed to have been not paying close enough attention because the thing that caused you to be injured is so apparent that it is your fault. The law generally provides defenses for property owners or people in control of a property where one of those conditions exists and protects them from premises liability lawsuits. 

Are there Circumstances where this can be Disputed?

There are exceptions to the open and obvious defect defense, however, and they require a fact-specific analysis to look at factors as to why a person was injured. One exception is in cases where the hazard may well be clear and obvious, but you could not have possibly noticed it, because there was something else that drew your attention away from it. One easy example is that of advertising and promotional signs. If you entered a shop and there was a huge, brightly colored promotional sign that caused you to look up, and whilst looking up you tripped over something that would otherwise have been obvious, you may be entitled to file a premises liability lawsuit. Those in charge of the property have caused the injury by diverting your focus and not taking into the potential dangers of doing so. Another exception is that even if the hazard was obvious, the condition has existed for so long that the property owner should have done something about it. Your case will be particularly strong here if someone else has previously been injured in similar circumstances. The law may find that the property owner had plenty of prior warning and opportunity to take the necessary steps to remove the hazard altogether. Whatever the circumstances, if you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, you should always consult with an attorney. They will be able to advise you if it was an open and obvious condition and inform you whether you have a case or not.

Are there Alternatives to a Premises Liability Lawsuit?

There are alternatives to filing a premises liability lawsuit, which will allow you to receive at least partial compensation for your injuries. Even if you cannot prove that negligence led to your injury, if the property owner has medical payments coverage, you may be able to submit your medical expenses for payment under that coverage. Some injured parties and property owners may agree to compromise in this way to avoid lengthy legal proceedings if the cost of the injuries is not too significant. Quite often, this may suit both parties just fine, though you should be aware that if a property owner seems overly keen to offer this, it may be a telltale sign that they know they are responsible. It is never usually advisable to agree to any settlement without first consulting a specialized personal injury lawyer and having them look over the circumstances of your case.

Often, when people think of premises liability cases, they focus on issues like slipping on ice or slipping inside a store, but premises liability cases really can involve all kinds of injuries. In premises liability cases, the facts are often so unique that they need close evaluation before you and your lawyers can decide whether you have a viable lawsuit or not. If you’ve been hurt on someone’s property, you must speak to a legal professional who can advise you on the best way to proceed as there are so many ways that different cases can evolve.


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