Articles Tagged with premises liability attorney

Many of our injury clients are businesses or individuals who sustain an injury as a result of the negligent actions of a North Carolina employee or agency. There are many special considerations that need to be made in these cases, including a close examination of sovereign immunity statutes and timelines for notice of claim. ice pond

Government agencies require those filing a claim for damages to first file a notice of that claim within a certain window, typically 180 days. So even though the statute of limitations may not expire for three years from the date of the injury, a claim can be found invalid if no notice of claim is given within that short window. That’s why it’s so important to seek legal advice just as soon as possible after suffering a serious personal injury.

This was the lesson learned recently in a case before the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, where a college student filed a claim after suffering a slip-and-fall on campus.

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Workplace hazards must be taken seriously, whether the job is being carried out at a construction site, a restaurant, or an office. chef

In a recent case in Connecticut, a personal chef employed by a wealthy homeowner tripped and fell on a plastic runner, placed there by a construction contractor initiating a host of renovations at the home.

In a situation like this, the worker would be considered the employee of the homeowner. Assuming the homeowner provided workers’ compensation (and in an arrangement like this, that wouldn’t necessarily be guaranteed), the worker would be unable to pursue litigation against the employer. However, there would be no stopping a claim against a liable third party, in this case the construction company. According to the Greenwich Time, that’s exactly what the plaintiff did – and prevailed.

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Patrons of shopping centers are owed the highest duty of care by the property owner/manager to ensure the sight is free of unreasonable hazards. Where those hazards exist but are not obvious, businesses have a responsibility to quickly remedy them and, if necessary, to warn customers about it. crates

But what happens when a danger is obvious? This falls under the umbrella of a legal theory known as the “open and obvious doctrine.” This is a major exception to the general rule that property owners have a duty to take reasonable care to protect invitees from an unreasonable risk of harm. The doctrine holds that the invitor will be shielded from liability if the hazard in question was both open and obvious.

Now, there can be an exception to the open and obvious rule, too. It is reasonable distraction. This distraction exception can apply in cases where the land possessor should have had a reasonable expectation that the invitee’s attention was going to be distracted, so that he or she wouldn’t have discovered what is obvious and what might otherwise be discovered in time to protect against it. Asserting such a case can prove challenging. Alternatively, plaintiff could dispute the open-and-obvious nature of the hazard, as did the plaintiff in the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case of Utley v. Smith Hardware and GardenContinue reading

A woman was seriously injured while descending a set of stairs that lacked a railway after singing in her church choir. When she sued the church for damages, it was undisputed that she fell on the defendant’s stairs and suffered injuries as a result. The question recently before the North Carolina Court of Appeals was whether the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff and breached that duty, foreseeably resulting in the plaintiff’s injuries. church

According to court records in Thompson v. Evergreen Baptist Church, a key issue in this case was the plaintiff’s own knowledge of the potential danger.

The plaintiff was a member of the church for 34 years. Her husband had been a member of the congregation his entire life, and their children and grandchildren were baptized there. At various times, the plaintiff helped with the children’s choir and served as a youth director, a Sunday School teacher, and the Director of Missions. At the time of her fall, she was serving as a youth director. Additionally, she was a regular church attendee, noting she was there any time the church doors were open and she was able to attend.

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In the criminal court system, we prosecute only those responsible in some capacity for the alleged crime. In the civil justice system, where the goal is not to penalize but rather to restore, we do allow third parties to be held liable for the criminal actions of others when there is evidence those third parties failed in their duty to protect the victim or warn of danger. guncloseup

Still, our courts can struggle with this concept – when such a duty exists, the extent of it and whether victim was deserving of protection.

The recent Oregon Supreme Court case of Piazza v. Kellim, a Peruvian foreign exchange student living in Portland was brutally gunned down in a 2009 mass shooting at a teen nightclub. She was just 17, and she died from her wounds. The gunman, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, shot several students, killing two, before turning the gun on himself. The representative of one of the exchange student’s estate later sued the now-defunct club and other businesses, as well as the organizer of the student exchange program, were negligent. Continue reading

A woman in South Florida is suing a luxury hotel in Miami and a valet service after she claims she was injured in a violent carjacking as she unloaded her belonging in the carport of the building, where the bustling valet service was operating.

Keys in the ignition of a car Keys representing unlocking an idea, treasure, or love

In the case of Stept v. Met II Hotel LLC, plaintiff is seeking punitive damages and other sanctions against the hotel, arguing staffers at the hotel and valet services knew there was a potential for carjacking and failed to update its procedures – even after a previous attempt from this very same suspect.

According to reports from Courtroom View Network, which is following the case, the victim sustained serious damage to her arm and mental health in the incident. She was forced to undergo elbow surgery on her left arm and still struggles with the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Defendant’s alleged failure to act was an egregious breach of duty, plaintiff argues, in light of the threat this suspect posed.  Continue reading

In many South Carolina premises liability claims, an important element is proving defendant had actual or constructive knowledge of the defect. This means the defendant:

  • Created the dangerous condition OR
  • Was expressly informed of the dangerous condition OR
  • Should have expected it because it occurred with such frequency OR
  • Should have discovered it because it had existed for such a time that, had defendant been using reasonable care, it would have been found. fence1

This element is essential in many cases where it is alleged a business owner failed to protect patrons from some dangerous condition on site.  Continue reading

A woman who suffered serious burns on her face and neck after tripping over in a parking lot and spilling hot coffee on herself has settled with the chain restaurant for $522,000. coffee1

Of course, cases like this tend to get media attention because they bring to mind the infamous “hot coffee” case of Liebeck v. McDonald’s, a 1992 injury lawsuit in which a 79-year-old woman was awarded nearly $3 million in punitive damages after suffering burns after coffee spilled on her. This was spun as an outrageous sum, but firstly, plaintiff only received a fraction of that award. Secondly, the restaurant served coffee at a scalding 190 degrees – despite the fact that industry standards held anymore than 140 degrees was dangerous. Plaintiff was horribly burned, and she wasn’t the first one either. Jurors carefully sifted through all the facts and carefully considered them before deciding on the award. Anyone who cites this as an example of a “frivolous claim” need only look at the horrific injuries Liebeck suffered.

The most recent coffee injury lawsuit relied on a theory of negligence known as premises liability. Specifically, the claim was the walking surface of the parking lot wasn’t safe for patrons because it contained an exposed spike from a dislodged curb stop. Plaintiff tripped on this spike and spilled the multiple cups of hot coffee she was carrying. In addition to the serious burns she suffered, she also had numerous cuts on her hands and knees. Her attorney also indicated she sustained a back and shoulder injury and had to undergo surgery.  Continue reading

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