Our Virginia Personal Injury Attorneys Have the Answers You Seek
- Page 1
Will I need to sign a release of claims form when I settle my premises liability claim?
When you and the negligent property or business owner’s insurance company agree on the amount of compensation you will receive for your injuries in your premises liability accident, you will need to go through a few more steps before you get your check. One important document you will need to sign is a release of all claims form.
What Is a Release of All Claims Form?
A release of all claims form is a document prepared by the insurance company that absolves the parties of liability after a premises liability accident. When you sign the document, you are dismissing your claim and agreeing that you cannot file a claim for your injuries in the future. The negligent party’s insurance company will require you to sign this legal document before they will release the settlement proceeds to you.
What Information Is Contained in a Release of All Claims Form?
While every insurance company will use their own release of claims form, there is some common information in most of them. The release of claims form you will be asked to sign will most likely include the following:
- Details of your premises liability accident
- Your claim for your injuries and any property damages
- Identification of the parties to the settlement
- Amount of money you are receiving
- What law governs
In addition, you are waiving important legal rights in the release of claims form in exchange for the settlement proceeds that the insurance company will pay you. You are releasing the insurance company and the negligent party from:
- Obligation to pay. By signing the release, you are giving up the right to receive future damages for your injuries. If you later discovered your injuries were more serious than you thought, you would not be able to reopen your claim to obtain more money.
- Right to file a lawsuit. You are also waiving your right to file a lawsuit against the negligent property owner or business responsible for your accident.
- Non-admission of fault. The release of claims forms will provide that no party is agreeing that they are liable for your injuries. You are releasing them from liability by signing the document.
You should never agree to a settlement or to sign a release of all claims form or other document from the insurance company without first consulting with an experienced premises liability attorney.
If you were injured in a premises liability accident, we’re here to help. Call our office or fill out our convenient contact form to schedule your free consultation today.
Should I accept a quick settlement of my premises liability accident claim?
If the insurance company for the negligent property or business owner offers to settle your premises liability case soon after you file your claim, you may be tempted to accept their offer in order to pay your medical bills and replace your lost wages. However, it is rarely a good idea to accept a quick settlement. Here are three reasons why you should say no to the first offer you receive.
Reason #1: You Don’t Know How Much Compensation You Should Receive
Soon after your accident, you cannot know the compensation you should receive for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can only determine this once you reach your maximum medical recovery. This is the stage in your medical treatment where you have fully recovered or recovered as much as you can, and your doctor can tell you what future medical care you will need and whether you can return to work.
Reason #2: The Offer Will Be Too Low
The insurance company is most likely trying to get you to settle your case quickly so that they can pay you much less than the compensation you deserve for your injuries under Virginia law. Once you settle your claim, your settlement would be a final resolution of your claim. You could not reopen your case if you later found out that your injuries were more serious than you originally thought.
Reason #3: There May Be Disputed Issues
If the insurance company disputes their liability to pay you or the seriousness of your injuries, they may make a low-ball settlement offer. However, if you hire an experienced premises liability lawyer, they can provide the insurance company with additional evidence to resolve the dispute and convince them of their obligation to pay you all the damages you are entitled to.
What Should You Do If the Insurance Company Offers to Settle Your Claim?
You should never accept a settlement offer from the insurance adjuster or sign any documents until you consult with a knowledgeable premises liability attorney. They will be able to accurately value your claim and be certain that you do not waive important legal rights by settling your case or signing insurance company documents.
If you suffered injuries in a premises liability accident, our skilled and compassionate lawyers are here to help. To get started, call our Norfolk office or fill out our convenient online form to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.
What documents should I bring to my first appointment with my slip and fall accident attorney?
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident at someone’s property or a business, an experienced premises liability attorney can help you receive a fair settlement from the insurance company. In order to find a qualified lawyer that you believe you can trust to fight for your rights, you should take advantage of the free initial consultation that most lawyers offer. If you want to get the most out of your meeting, you should bring the right documents to your meeting.
Documents to Bring to Your Initial Consultation
You should be organized when you go to your first meeting with your lawyer. The purpose of this appointment is to get legal advice about your right to compensation for your injuries and to determine if you want to hire this attorney. They can give you better advice on your claim if you bring these documents with you:
- Accident report. Hopefully, you reported your slip and fall accident immediately to the property or business owner, and an accident report was prepared. It could include important details, such as how your fall occurred and witnesses to it, that can help you prove the cause of your accident and that you suffered injuries.
- Pictures and video. If you took pictures or videos that show the dangerous condition that caused your fall and injuries, they can help the lawyer understand more about how your accident happened and how the owner’s negligence caused it.
- Medical records. You should bring your medical records for any treatments you have received, along with your medical bills. This will document how serious your injuries were and the types of medical care you need.
- Wage loss documents. If you missed time off work due to your injuries, you are entitled to be compensated for your wage losses in your settlement. You should bring your pay stubs, documentation of the days you were off work, and your tax return to your appointment.
- Contact information. Bring the contact information for the property or business owner, their insurance company, and any witnesses to your slip and fall accident.
- Communications with the insurance company. If the insurance company for the owner has already contacted you, bring any written communication, such as letters and emails, to your appointment.
You should also have a list of questions prepared so that you can interview the lawyer about their experience handling slip and fall accident cases, how they will keep you informed about your claim, and how much it will cost to retain them.
Were you injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule a free consultation with our premises liability accident lawyers to learn about our track record of success in helping clients like you and how we can assist you.
How long will it take to settle my dog bite case?
It is not easy to know how long it will take to resolve your dog bite claim because every case is unique. However, there are some common factors in these cases that can make it take longer to settle your claim. Understanding what they are can give you a better sense of how long you may have to wait to receive your money.
Factors That Affect How Long it Will Take to Settle Your Dog Bite Claim
Under Virginia dog bite laws, you may be entitled to compensation for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the dog’s owner. However, it may not be easy to reach a settlement for what you deserve with their insurance company. Here are some factors that can affect how long this process will take:
- Your recovery. It is important to wait until you fully recover from your injuries, or as much as you will, to settle your case. You cannot know how much you should receive in your settlement for your future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering until you reach this stage of your medical treatment.
- Seriousness of your injuries. If you suffered serious injuries, the value of your claim will be higher. You may need to fight longer and harder to convince the insurance company to pay you all the compensation you deserve than if you suffered a minor injury.
- Litigation. If the insurance company refuses to be reasonable or the statute of limitations, which is the time period to sue, will expire soon, you will need to retain an experienced premises liability attorney to file a lawsuit against the dog owner. It can take longer to go through the litigation process, although it is still likely that your case will be settled before it goes to a jury trial.
If you suffered injuries in a dog attack, our skilled premises liability lawyers are here to explain your options to you and how long it could take to settle your case. To get started, call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation today.
Who could be liable when a dog bites someone?
Under Virginia dog bite laws, dog owners are liable to compensate victims if they knew or should have known their dog was dangerous or aggressive, failed to use reasonable care to control their dog, or violated a law or ordinance relating to the dog’s care. Depending on the circumstances surrounding a dog bite, other parties, in addition to the owner, could face liability. If you were injured in a dog attack, you need to identify all the responsible parties if you want to obtain the maximum recovery you are entitled to.
Parties Who May Liable in a Dog Bite Case
Even if you have a strong case against the dog owner, they may not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries fully. That is why it is so important to pursue claims against other liable parties if there are any. Who is liable will depend on the facts in your case. However, here are some parties who may face responsibility:
- Dog owner. In most cases, the dog owner would be partially or fully responsible if their dog bit you.
- Dog keeper. If someone was taking care of the dog at the time of the attack, they could face liability if they knew or should have known of the dog’s dangerous tendencies or failed to reasonably control the dog, and this caused the victim’s dog bite. Violation of a local dog ordinance could be another way to hold them liable.
- Landlord. A landlord has a duty to protect against dangerous conditions on their property, which can include aggressive dogs. They also have a duty to regularly inspect for hazardous conditions and to take steps to protect others from these dangers. If they breach these duties, they can be liable to compensate a dog bite victim.
- Parents. If a child under 18 years old owned or was taking care of a dog who bit you, they might not be held responsible due to their age. However, their parents could be responsible depending on the circumstances surrounding the attack.
- Business. If the dog attack occurred on business property, the business owner might have breached their duty to protect against dangerous conditions and be an additional party to pursue a claim against.
Did you or a loved one suffer a dog bite in Norfolk or Virginia Beach? Our experienced premises liability attorneys can identify all the liable parties and pursue claims on your behalf. To learn how we will aggressively fight for your rights, fill out our convenient online form on this page to schedule your free consultation today.
Who could be responsible for compensating me for my injuries in an elevator accident?
Elevator accidents can be a frightening experience, and more than one party’s negligence could have caused the elevator to malfunction. If you need to file a claim for compensation for your injuries, it is important to identify all liable parties if you want to win your case and recover all the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Common Causes of Elevator Accidents
There are a number of reasons that victims suffer injuries in elevator accidents. You need to understand the common causes of elevator breakdowns in order to identify who to sue. Leading reasons for these tragic accidents include:
- Defective elevator doors
- Excessive speeds
- Falls into shafts
- Elevator malfunctions
Who Could Be Liable in an Elevator Accident?
The liable parties in your case will depend on the specific facts surrounding your elevator accident. However, these three parties are typically responsible:
- Building owner and lessee. The building owner and lessee of the premises have a duty to keep the property and its elevators in a safe condition and to warn guests of any dangerous conditions. If they failed to inspect or maintain the elevator—which is frequently true in elevator accidents—or notify guests of hazards, they could be liable for compensating you for your injuries.
- Maintenance companies. Owners and lessees typically hire maintenance companies to perform regular inspections of the elevator, perform maintenance, and make necessary repairs. When these parties do not spot a potential problem or fail to repair it, they can be held legally liable.
- Manufacturer or seller. If your accident was caused by an elevator design or manufacturing defect, you may be able to hold the manufacturer and seller responsible for compensating you in a product liability lawsuit.
If you or a family member were injured in an elevator or other premises liability accident in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, our skilled and dedicated premises liability lawyers are here to identify all liable parties and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.
How do I prove the business owner knew of the dangerous condition that caused my premises liability accident?
If you are injured in a premises liability accident at a grocery store, mall, gas station, or other business, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries under Virginia law. However, proving a premises liability case is not as easy as you may think. Here is how you can show that the business owner was negligent in causing your accident.
What You Must Prove to Win Your Case
When you file your claim with the at-fault business’ insurance company, you will need to convince them of their liability before they will offer you a fair settlement. You do this by establishing all these elements of a negligence claim:
- There was a dangerous condition on the property.
- The owner knew or should have known of the hazardous condition and did nothing to remove the danger or post a warning to guests.
- You were injured because of the dangerous condition on the property.
- You suffered damages due to your injuries.
How to Show the Business Owner’s Knowledge of the Dangerous Condition
One of the hardest challenges in a premises liability case is showing that the business owner knew or should have known of the hazardous condition that caused the accident. Proving all or some of the following can help you do this:
- The dangerous condition existed for a long enough time period that the owner knew or should have known about it.
- The business had no or insufficient procedures for checking for hazards and promptly removing them.
- The business had no or insufficient procedures for warning guests of a dangerous condition when they could not immediately remove it.
- The details of how the condition that led to your accident was caused.
- The steps that the owner took to remove the dangerous condition or warn others of it before your accident and afterward.
Photos of the accident scene, witness testimony, business records, video surveillance tapes, employee statements, and other evidence can you establish these facts that prove the owner’s negligence.
How to Get the Evidence You Need to Win Your Case
The business owner and its insurance company will not voluntarily turn over their records to you. You need the help of an experienced premises liability lawyer if you want to prove your case and receive all the compensation you deserve in your settlement. To learn how we can help you, call our Norfolk office and schedule a free consultation today.
Should I sign a medical release from the insurance company?
If you are injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident and file a claim for compensation with the insurance company, they will assign an insurance adjuster to investigate and settle your claim. As part of their investigation, the adjuster may ask you to sign an authorization for release of your medical records to them.
While this request may appear innocent, you should not agree to it. You could seriously weaken your claim and have to accept less than you deserve in your settlement.
Two Reasons Not to Sign the Insurance Company’s Medical Authorization Release
Because your injuries are the basis of your claim with the insurance company, your medical records are essential to proving the seriousness of your injuries and the damages you are entitled to. However, the medical authorization forms that insurance companies use are blanket authorizations that request all of your medical records, not just the ones associated with your accident. You do not have to give them access to your entire medical history to settle your claim.
So why does the insurance adjuster want you to sign their medical release? They may be looking for information that they can use to deny your claim or pay you less money. Here’s how they use medical records to do that:
- Pre-existing injuries. The insurance adjuster would look at your medical records for pre-existing injuries you suffered. If they find any, they could use the information to argue that your current injury was caused by a prior incident and not your premises liability accident.
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance company may review your doctor’s notes for statements you made that are inconsistent with what you told them or others. They may use your statements to argue that you are not a credible witness or that your injuries are not as serious as you claim.
What Is the Best Way to Handle the Insurance Company’s Request for Your Medical Records?
You should never sign any legal documents—including the insurance company’s medical authorization—without first consulting with an experienced premises liability attorney. They can revise the authorization so that it only releases the medical records that the insurance company truly needs or can provide them with these records on your behalf.
Your lawyer can also take over communications with the insurance company so that you do not make other inadvertent mistakes that may hurt your case. They will also negotiate your settlement so that you receive all that you deserve in your settlement.
Were you injured in a premises liability accident in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule your free case evaluation to learn about your options and how we can help you.
How much is my claim worth?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you may consider filing a claim with the negligent property owner’s or business’ insurance company. It is important to understand how much your claim is worth. This helps you know whether it is worth your time and energy to pursue your right to compensation and whether you are getting a fair settlement from the insurance company.
Types of Compensation You Can Receive in a Premises Liability Settlement
Part of the determination of how much your claim is worth is based on the amount of compensation you are entitled to under Virginia law. The negligent party is responsible for paying you for your past and future damages. Types of compensation awarded in these cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death damages if a family member died
Factors That Affect the Value of Your Claim
Most premises liability cases are settled either before or during litigation. However, not all victims receive the maximum amount in their settlement. Certain factors can make your case stronger or weaker and increase or decrease the value of your claim. Some of these factors include:
- Negligence. You must prove that the negligence of the business or property owner caused your accident and injuries in order to be entitled to compensation from them. If you have strong evidence that proves this, the strength of your claim and its value will be greater.
- Your fault. If there are legitimate disputes about whether you were partially to blame for causing your accident, this could significantly weaken your case. Virginia follows a very harsh contributory negligence law that prevents you from receiving any damages if you were even one percent negligent.
- Seriousness of your injuries. If you suffered serious injuries that require expensive medical treatments and that cause long-term or permanent limitations in your ability to work and the quality of your life, the value of your claim will be greater.
Let Us Help You Determine How Much Your Claim is Worth
You need the help of a skilled premises liability lawyer who has a track record of success in settling and litigating premises liability cases to accurately determine how much you should receive in your settlement. To learn about our extensive experience in these cases and how we can assist you, call our office to schedule a free case evaluation today.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
No. One big mistake that victims of slip and fall and other premises liability accidents make is to agree to give a recorded statement to the negligent party’s insurance company. While the insurance adjuster’s request may seem innocent—it is not—and you could significantly hurt your claim for compensation for your injuries if you agree to give one.
Why the Insurance Company Wants a Recorded Statement
A recorded statement is a question and answer session between you and the insurance adjuster that is tape-recorded and later transcribed into a written document. The insurance company wants you to agree to give one for a few reasons.
The insurance adjuster has a duty to investigate your accident before deciding whether to offer you a settlement. The recorded statement can help him get a better picture of how you were hurt.
However, the insurance adjuster has another reason for wanting your recorded statement—to compare it to any other statements you made. The information he could find would help him to deny your claim or pay you less than you deserve.
Three Reasons Not to Agree to a Recorded Statement
If you know that you were not at fault in causing your accident, you may feel like you have nothing to hide and that agreeing to a recorded statement would not be harmful. However, here are three reasons to just say no:
- Not required. You are not required to give a recorded statement to settle your claim with the insurance company. The insurance adjuster has other ways that he can complete an investigation into the cause of your accident.
- Inconsistent statements. The insurance adjuster is skilled in asking questions that may be confusing or are designed to get you to inadvertently say something that weakens your case. This can include making an inconsistent statement that hurts your credibility or agreeing that your injuries are not that serious. He would use these statements against you in settlement negotiations.
- Court. Your recorded statement could also be used against you in any court hearings or at your jury trial. Even if you said something you did not mean and try to explain this later, your recorded statement could damage how your claim and you are perceived by the judge and jury.
What to Do If the Insurance Company Asks for a Recorded Statement
If the insurance company contacts you and requests that you give a recorded statement, you should politely say no and inform the insurance adjuster that you will have your lawyer contact them. If you have not already hired an experienced premises liability attorney, now is the time to do so—let him handle all communications with the insurance company. To find out how we can aggressively fight for the compensation you deserve, call our Norfolk office to schedule your appointment today.
Should I talk to the insurance company after a premises liability accident?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, the insurance company for the property owner or business where you were hurt will probably contact you within a few days of your accident. Should you talk to the insurance adjuster? While you may need to have a short conversation with him, you should keep your call as brief as possible and limit further direct communications with the insurance company.
Why the Insurance Company Wants to Talk to You
Once the insurance company is notified of your accident, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to your case. One of the reasons he would contact you is to investigate your claim. However, he also may have other motives.
The insurance adjuster may appear to be friendly and concerned about your health. However, it is important to remember that this person is not your friend and is not looking out for your best interests. He works for the insurance company and may try to use statements you make to him to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you are owed.
How to Handle Talking to the Insurance Company
You need to be very careful when talking to the insurance adjuster so that you do not inadvertently say something that weakens your right to compensation for your injuries. Here are guidelines on how to talk to him:
- Be polite.
- Obtain the contact information for the insurance company.
- Provide basic information, such as the date, time, and place of your accident, but do not discuss the details of the accident or your injuries.
- Advise the insurance adjuster that you will have your lawyer contact him to discuss your claim. Then retain an experienced premises liability attorney immediately if you have not hired one.
There are some things that you should not say or agree to when speaking to the insurance adjuster:
- Do not say “I’m sorry” or statements that admit fault.
- Do not agree to give a recorded statement, which is a tape-recorded question and answer session between the insurance adjuster and you.
- Do not sign the insurance company’s authorization for release of medical information. You would give them access to confidential medical information that they do not need and may use to try to deny your claim.
Our skilled and dedicated legal team is here to file your claim and take over all communications with the insurance company so that you receive the maximum amount in your settlement. Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation to get your questions answered and learn how we can assist you.
How soon should I go to a doctor after a premises liability accident?
There is no law in Virginia that sets a deadline for being seen by a physician after a premises liability accident. However, it is best to be examined by a doctor within a day or two of your accident—even if you believe your injuries are “minor” or that you were not hurt.
Two Reasons Why Prompt Medical Treatment Is Important
There are two important reasons to go to the emergency room, an urgent care facility, or your physician right away after a slip and fall or other premises liability accident.
Reason #1: You Protect Your Health
If you suffered obvious injuries, you know to get medical care right away. However, no matter whether you know you were hurt or not, you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Why is this so important? The symptoms of some injuries may not develop for days or longer after your accident. Some common injuries that may not be evident right away include:
- Traumatic brain injury and other brain injuries
- Back, neck, and shoulder injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Internal organ damage
It could become a life-threatening medical emergency if you wait until symptoms develop to see a doctor or your condition could worsen due to the lack of prompt medical treatment. You protect your health by seeing a medical professional within a day or two of your crash.
Reason #2: You Build a Stronger Case for Compensation for Your Injuries
When you file your claim with the negligent property owner’s or business’ insurance company, the insurance adjuster may look for reasons to deny your claim or reduce the amount of your settlement. If you delay getting medical care, you give them ammunition to dispute your claim. They could argue that your injuries were caused by another incident or that they are not very serious, or you would have sought treatment sooner.
Were you or a loved one injured in a premises liability accident in Norfolk? Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to learn how our experienced premises liability lawyers can help.
How much does it cost to hire a premises liability attorney?
If you were hurt in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you may realize that settling your claim against the negligent property or business owner on your own would not be in your best interests. However, you may worry that you cannot afford to hire an experienced premises liability lawyer, especially when you have mounting medical bills and no income while you are off work recovering. Fortunately, most attorneys charge their fees in a contingency fee agreement where you would not owe any fees upfront.
How a Contingency Fee Arrangement Works
Most premises liability lawyers understand how difficult it is for accident victims to pay attorney fees when they are struggling to get the medical treatment they need and charge their fees on a contingency fee basis. Here is how this agreement works:
- No upfront fees. You do not owe any attorney fees at the beginning of your case. Your lawyer would not get paid until your claim is resolved.
- Fees only owed if you win. You will only owe attorney fees if your lawyer settles your case or wins it at a trial. If your case is not successful, you would owe him no fees.
- Fees are a percentage of your settlement. Most premises liability lawyers charge a percentage of the amount you recover in your settlement or at trial as their fees.
- Fees paid from your settlement. When your case is settled, you do not have to write a check to your lawyer for his fees. Instead, he will deduct the amount you owe from your settlement proceeds.
Other Costs You Could Owe
Attorney fees are not the only expense you will incur when filing a claim for compensation following a premises liability accident. Some attorneys will expect you to pay a retainer when you hire them to cover a portion of these costs, while others will pay these expenses for you and deduct them from your settlement. Here are some of the additional costs you may owe:
- Expert witness fees
- Record copying costs
- Civil lawsuit filing fee
- Deposition costs
Your lawyer should explain how he would charge his attorney fees and other costs at your initial consultation with him—which should be at no cost to you. At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free consultation with a member of our legal team to discuss your legal options, how we can assist you, and the attorney fees and costs you would owe. To schedule yours, call our office or fill out the online form on this page.
How soon after my premises liability accident should I retain a lawyer?
If you want to obtain all the compensation you deserve for your injuries, you should hire an experienced premises liability attorney right away after your accident. Here are four reasons why this is so important.
Reason #1: Preservation of Evidence
It is not easy to prove a property or business owner’s negligence in causing a slip and fall or other type of premises liability accident. Your attorney can conduct a more exhaustive investigation into the cause of your accident soon after it occurred. In addition, he can obtain time-sensitive evidence, such as surveillance videotape that may have recorded your accident or witness statements—before they are lost.
Reason #2: Help You Avoid Mistakes
You probably have never been injured in an accident where you needed to file a claim for compensation with the negligent party’s insurance company. It is easy to make unintentional mistakes that can weaken your case. Here are some common ones that a lawyer can help you avoid:
- Agreeing to give a recorded statement to the insurance company
- Signing the insurance company’s blanket authorization for release of your medical records
- Posting about your accident on social media sites
- Making statements to the insurance adjuster that he can use to deny your claim or try to pay you less than you are owed.
Reason #3: Negotiate Your Settlement
It can be challenging to negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. It is difficult to know how much your claim is really worth. In addition, the insurance company may try to pressure you into accepting a quick settlement for far less than you deserve.
An attorney who has handled many premises liability cases will be able to value your claim accurately. He will also have strategies that he can use in negotiations with the insurance company to defeat their arguments as to why you should receive less than you deserve.
Reason #4: File Your Lawsuit
In Virginia, there is a deadline referred to as the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against the negligent party who caused your injuries. If your lawyer cannot settle your claim, he will sue the property owner or business before the time period to do so expires.
Were you or a family member injured in a premises liability accident? Our dedicated and knowledgeable lawyers are here to help. To get started, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
Can someone who was injured while illegally on your property sue you?
Unfortunately, a trespasser on your property who is injured in a premises liability accident may be able to pursue a claim for compensation against you. However, the type of guest a person is matters in Virginia, and your duties to a trespasser are limited.
When Can a Trespasser Sue You for His Injuries?
In Virginia, there are three types of guests: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Your duties to each are different, and you have the least duty to a trespasser. A trespasser is an individual who enters the property of another without permission or any right to do so. Your duty to him is only to not intentionally or wantonly injure him.
Like with other rules, there are exceptions to this law. A trespasser may be able to sue you in these situations:
- If the trespass is of such a nature and so frequent that you should have known of the trespass and the likely danger to the trespasser, you could face liability.
- Under the “dangerous instrumentality doctrine,” you can be found negligent if you leave on your property an instrument, appliance, or machine that is easily accessible to children and that has hidden, concealed, or latent dangers. These dangerous items must be in an area that you know or should reasonably know that children gather in. If a child is seven-years-old or younger and is injured, he cannot be considered negligent under Virginia law.
What to Do If a Trespasser Is Injured on Your Property in a Premises Liability Accident
If a trespasser is injured while on your property, you should retain an experienced premises liability accident lawyer as soon as possible. He can help you build a strong defense to this person’s claim. In addition to showing that the exceptions discussed above do not apply, an attorney can prove that the trespasser’s comparative fault caused his injuries.
Do you have other questions about your liability to a trespasser? Do you need to file a claim after suffering injuries in a premises liability accident? Call our Norfolk office to schedule a free consultation with a member of our legal team to get your questions answered and learn how we can assist you.
How do I get access to video footage that shows my slip and fall accident?
Many grocery stores, malls, restaurants, parking lots, and other properties use surveillance cameras. Security camera footage can be strong evidence that can help you prove the owner’s negligence in causing your slip and fall or other premises liability accident. It can also assist you in refuting arguments by the insurance company that you were at fault in causing your injuries. However, you need to act quickly to collect this important evidence.
How to Get Surveillance Video Footage
Unfortunately, the business or property owner most likely will not voluntarily give you the surveillance tape if you ask for it, especially if they know that you were injured in an accident. Here is what you need to do to get it:
- Retain an attorney. You should hire an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible after your accident. He can send the negligent owner a spoliation letter advising them of your claim and demanding a copy of the video footage. He will also advise them not to destroy the video in his letter.
- File a lawsuit. Unfortunately, some managers and property owners will ignore a spoliation letter and refuse to turn over the footage or destroy it. In this situation, you would need to file a lawsuit quickly and ask the court to issue a subpoena ordering the negligent party to provide you with the surveillance footage. If it has been destroyed, the owner could face harsh consequences, such as a finding that they were negligent in causing your accident.
How Long Is Surveillance Footage Kept?
There is no law dictating how long a business or property owner must keep video footage. Many security cameras are digital and run on a loop, which means that old footage is recorded over after a period of time. The re-recording can occur daily or every few days or weeks depending on the system used.
Because of this, you should report your accident right after it occurs to put the owner on notice of your accident and claim. You also need to retain a lawyer as soon as possible to take steps to preserve this evidence on your behalf.
The experienced premises liability lawyers at Tavss Fletcher understand the importance of conducting a thorough investigation and preserving evidence, such as surveillance footage. To learn about how we can assist you, call our Norfolk office to schedule your free consultation today.
What factors affect the value of my premises liability claim?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you are entitled to be compensated for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering from the negligent business or property owner. However, determining the value of your claim and what you can realistically expect to receive in a settlement or at a jury trial is more complicated than adding up the amount of your damages.
Factors That Can Increase or Decrease the Amount of Your Settlement
Every premises liability case is different, and a claim’s value will be based on the unique circumstances surrounding the accident and the victim’s injuries. However, there are common factors that can increase or decrease the value of a claim. Here are some top factors that may affect the amount of compensation you receive in your settlement.
The Liability of the Negligent Party
You must prove the business or property owner’s negligence in causing your accident in order to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. When you have strong proof that they were at fault, this will increase the value of the claim. If there are legitimate disputes about liability, this may weaken your claim and the amount you can realistically expect to receive in your settlement.
The Seriousness of Your Injuries
If you suffered a more severe or permanent injury, such as traumatic brain injury, back injury, spinal injury, or paralysis, you will need more long-term, expensive medical treatments, be off work for longer—if you can return at all—and have more serious limitations in your day-to-day life. This can increase the amount of compensation that you may be entitled to and increase the overall value of your case.
The Percentage of Fault for the Accident
If you were partially at fault in causing your accident, this may significantly reduce what you can receive in your settlement. Virginia follows the harsh contributory negligence doctrine that bars an accident victim who was at all at fault from receiving any compensation.
However, just because the insurance company claims that you were partially to blame for your injuries does not mean that it is true. This is a common insurance tactic used to deny or reduce legitimate claims for compensation.
If you were injured in a premises liability accident in Norfolk, you need the assistance of an experienced premises liability attorney to determine the true value of your claim and to fight the negligent party’s insurance company for the compensation you deserve. Take advantage of our free consultation to learn how we can assist you. Call our Norfolk office today to schedule your appointment.
What parties could be responsible if I injured myself in a slip and fall accident on a sidewalk?
If you suffered injuries in a fall on a sidewalk in Norfolk, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, you will need to identify the party responsible for the sidewalk’s maintenance, which can be complicated if you do not have the assistance of an experienced slip and fall accident lawyer.
Who Is Liable for a Slip and Fall on a Sidewalk?
All property owners and businesses have a duty to maintain their properties—and their sidewalks—in a safe condition and to post warning signs of hazardous conditions. In some cities and municipalities, a local ordinance will place additional duties—such as to remove snow and ice from sidewalks within a certain time—on the owner of the property that may have been breached in a slip and fall accident. In other situations, public sidewalk maintenance is the responsibility of the local government.
Because of this, there are a number of parties who may face liability when a slip and fall accident occurs on a sidewalk. They include:
- Property owner or business. When a property owner or business has a duty to maintain the sidewalk, they can face liability if repairs are not made, snow and ice are not removed promptly, or other hazards are not taken care of. This can be true even if the sidewalk is on public property if a city or municipal ordinance places additional duties on the owner.
- Lessee. If a business leases their commercial space, the responsibility for sidewalk maintenance may be on the business instead of the owner. Landlords may also include a provision in their apartment and home leases requiring the tenant to maintain the sidewalk in some fashion. Whenever a property is leased, the lease will need to be reviewed in order to determine whether the owner or lessee is the negligent party.
- Homeowner’s association. In some residential neighborhoods, a homeowner’s association is responsible for maintaining the sidewalks in the subdivision. In this situation, a claim would need to be filed against their insurance company if their breach of duty caused your fall.
- Government. If a city or municipality was responsible for sidewalk maintenance and repair where you fell, your claim will be more complicated. There are special notice and other procedural rules that must be followed when pursuing a claim against a local government.
Did you or a loved one suffer injuries in a fall on a sidewalk in Norfolk? Our experienced slip and fall accident attorneys can help you determine who is liable for compensating you and will fight for the compensation you deserve. To learn more about your legal options, fill out our online form to schedule a free case evaluation today.
What is premises liability?
Premises liability is a legal concept that can give you a right to compensation when a business or property owner fails to maintain their property in a safe condition or to post warning signs of a potential hazard, and you suffer injuries. Like other types of personal injury cases, it is based on the concept of negligence.
It is not enough that you suffered injuries on someone’s property at a business or that a hazardous condition existed for you to be entitled to compensation for your injuries. You must prove the following:
- The property owner or business owed you a duty of care.
- A dangerous condition existed on the property.
- The property owner or business knew or should have known of the hazard but did not take steps to remove the danger or to warn you of it.
- You suffered an injury because the property owner or business failed to act reasonably to prevent your accident.
Examples of Premises Liability Claims
There are many types of cases that fall under the legal theory of premises liability. Here are examples of some common ones:
- Slip and fall accidents. One of the most common premises liability claims involves slip and fall accidents. Some dangerous conditions that lead to these accidents include defective flooring, wet floors, defective staircases, potholes and cracked asphalt, inadequate lighting, debris, and spilled food and drinks.
- Inadequate security. Inadequate security claims often arise when landlords, other property owners, and businesses fail to provide proper security to guests and they are injured or killed by someone engaging in criminal activities. Failure to provide adequate locks or lighting are a few negligent actions that can give rise to a premises liability claim. When the owner knows of increased dangers of criminal activities on his property, he can face liability if he failed to provide additional security, such as security guards.
- Swimming pool accidents. Because of the dangers to children when swimming pools are left unsupervised or unsecured, property owners are often required to have a fence, locked gate, or other means of securing the property. When they fail to do so, they can be liable if someone suffers injuries or dies in a tragic drowning. A property owner can also be found negligent for failing to repair defective handrails or steps leading into a pool, having a dangerous pool filtration system, or allowing slip and fall hazards to exist.
- Dog bites. Dog owners have a duty to prevent their dogs from injuring other people. They can be liable to compensate a dog bite victim if they were negligent or under Virginia’s “one-bite” rule that holds an owner liable if the dog has bitten someone at least once in the past.
If you suffered injuries due to a property owner’s or business’s negligence in Norfolk, our experienced premises liability attorneys are here to help. Call our office to schedule your free consultation today to start learning about your right to compensation for your injuries.
What if I was partially at fault for my premises liability accident?
If you were injured in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, you may have a claim for compensation for your injuries against the negligent business or property owner. However, if you were partially at fault in causing your injuries, you may be barred from pursuing a claim under Virginia’s contributory negligence laws.
What Is Contributory Negligence?
While all states have laws on how a victim’s own negligence affects their claim for compensation, Virginia is one of the few states that follow the contributory negligence law. Most other states follow a comparative negligence doctrine. Here is how each affects an individual’s right to damages:
- Comparative negligence. In states that follow comparative negligence, an injured person’s compensation would be reduced by his percentage of fault in causing his injuries. In some states, he would be barred from obtaining any compensation if he was found to be 50 or 51 percent at fault.
- Contributory negligence. Virginia’s contributory negligence law is harsh. It provides that if a victim is at all to blame—even by one percent—that he is not entitled to any compensation from the negligent party.
What Should You Do If You Believe That You Are Partially to Blame for Your Premises Liability Accident?
If you were hurt in a premises liability accident, it is crucial that you contact an experienced premises liability attorney as soon as possible. He will have an understanding of the negligence and contributory negligence laws in Virginia and can evaluate whether or not you really share any blame for your injuries. He will also know what evidence will be needed to establish that the negligent party was 100 percent responsible for your injuries.
At Tavss Fletcher, we offer a free initial consultation where you can discuss your case and learn about your legal options. To schedule yours, call our Norfolk office or fill out our online form today.