Premises Liability

Premises Liability Lawyer

Bart Bernard is a highly skilled premises liability attorney who has procured multi-million-dollar settlements and jury awards for his clients. If you have been seriously injured on a business, public or private property, you may be entitled to legal compensation.

A simple trip to the grocery store shouldn’t place you at risk of harm. You should be able to take a walk around your neighborhood without fear of falling down an uncovered manhole or being viciously attacked by someone’s dog. Premises liability law is designed to protect citizens by stipulating that property owners have a legal responsibility to maintain their properties by taking reasonable safeguards to minimize dangers.

What is premises liability?

Premises liability law states that property owners should exercise “reasonable care” to address potentially dangerous conditions and maintain a safe property. It is a common misconception that simply being present on someone’s property is enough to win a case. Even if a hazard exists, a lawyer must still show that the owner knew – or should have reasonably known – about the unsafe condition and was negligent in failing to take the proper steps to warn his guest or remedy the situation.

What is a property owner’s duty of care?

“Duty of care” is a type of legal obligation in tort law, defined by common law. There is an implicit responsibility held by all property owners to prevent foreseeable harm to others through the maintenance of their properties. The courts examine many areas of a case, including knowledge of the hazard(s) in question, the possible magnitude of potential harm, the alternatives available, the costs and burdens associated with maintenance, and the conduct taken.

Types of premises liability cases

Premises liability cases explored by Bart Bernard include:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Broken railings or stairs
  • Cracked or damaged sidewalks
  • Defective conditions on premises
  • Dog bites and attacks
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Fallen tree limbs
  • Fires and electrocutions
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Inadequate security leading to injury or assault
  • Scaffolding collapses
  • Slip, trip and fall cases
  • Snow and ice accidents
  • Toxic fumes or chemicals
  • Water leaks or floods

Common injuries in premises liability cases

A small cut or scrape may not be grounds to file a personal injury lawsuit, but more serious injuries are worth pursuing, such as:

  • Concussions and traumatic brain injuries
  • Electrical shocks and burns
  • Fractures and skeletal damage to the neck, back or spine
  • Internal injuries like organ perforations
  • Loss of limbs
  • Injury leading to disability or disfigurement

Premises liability: who is responsible?

Hazardous situations can come about suddenly and be present anywhere we go. To a certain extent, this is part of living. Objects topple into our path. Water can leak and pool up, causing slippery surfaces. Reasonable people watch where they are going to the best of their ability.

Liability boils down to common sense. The courts may explore questions like:

  • What would another property owner in the same situation have done?
  • What would a reasonable person have assumed about the hazards on this property?
  • Could simple, reasonable steps have prevented the harm?
  • Were efforts made to keep the property safe, clean and in good repair?
  • Was there a legitimate reason for the object in question to be there?
  • Could a barrier or warning sign notify people of the risky situation?
  • Did poor lighting or inadequate security contribute to the danger?

Trespasser vs. licensee vs. invitee

Louisiana premises liability law also factors in the plaintiff’s status. A visitor can be deemed:

  • An invitee: someone who has the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property; people like neighbors, friends, and relatives typically fall under this category; the owner owes a duty of reasonable care to provide a safe environment for the guest.
  • A licensee: someone who has the property owner’s express of implied permission to enter the property, but is doing so for his or her own purposes; patrons of a business usually fall under this category; the owner has a duty of care to warn visitors of unreasonable harm.
  • A trespasser: someone who is not authorized to be on the property; owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers unless the trespasser was a child who knew no better and was allowed access through poor safety measures – often the case in swimming pool accidents.

How a premises liability injury case works

Once a formal premises liability claim has been filed, the following steps occur:

  • The defendant receives a summons notifying him or her of the lawsuit
  • The legal teams engage in fact-finding missions, collect testimonies, compile records, and assemble experts
  • Both parties meet for pre-trial motions to explore the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments presented
  • A pre-trial premises liability settlement may be offered
  • If the settlement is accepted, the defendant agrees to pay within 20 days — or pay additional interest.
  • If the settlement is rejected or no offer is made, the case proceeds to court.

What a premises liability lawyer can do for you

When premises liability insurance payouts do not cover the cost of your injuries and emotional suffering, Bart Bernard will help you recover rightful compensation. He is fully prepared to argue your case before a jury and hold negligent parties accountable for paying what they owe. Bart Bernard has run his own law firm in his hometown of Lafayette, Louisiana since 1997. He is also a member of the Elite Lawyers of America and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

In Louisiana, you have a one-year statute of limitations to file your lawsuit, so it’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights. Call today to arrange a free case evaluation with Bart Bernard today.

Premises liability law resources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Summary, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.nr0.htm
  2. U.S. Department of Labor, Workplace Injury, Illness and Fatality Statistics, https://www.osha.gov/oshstats/work.html

Last modified: March 26, 2018

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