Premises Liability


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Premises Liability

Visiting a friend or relative or shopping at a business in town or having a meal in a local restaurant should not be a dangerous activity. Unfortunately, accidents happen every day at public locations in Vermont. In some cases, victims sustain injuries due to negligent acts by property owners. When accidents occur, victims often need immediate medical attention. Depending on the extent of the injury, those who sustain them can require surgeries, hospitalization, and therapy in order to recover. In most accidents, victims have to take time off work or, for serious injuries, they may be unable to return to work ever again. If you or someone you love has been injured on another person’s property, you might be able to file a premises liability case against the property owner to obtain compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at Kohn, Rath, Danon, Lynch & Scharf, LLP have extensive experience helping those injured in premises liability cases obtain the justice and compensation they deserve.

What Are Premises Liability Cases?

Victims who are injured on the property of others’ may be entitled to financial reimbursement for their injuries and damages, which, while it cannot fully compensate the trauma of one’s accident, can make certain burdens easier to carry. In Vermont, the term premises liability is used to describe instances where individuals are injured on the property of another person or company. These accidents can include:

  • Slip and fall cases;
  • Accidents on commercial property;
  • Assaults that occur due to poor security;
  • Negligent maintenance of properties;
  • Defective or ineffective lighting;
  • Dog bites
  • Lead poisoning; and
  • Apartment accidents.

Although injuries can sometimes seem minor, there will often be a delayed onset of symptoms, which increase in severity over time. Individuals who are harmed in these types of incidents often suffer from back, neck, or spinal cord injuries, which can be truly devastating. It is crucial for anyone who is involved in an accident on someone else’s property to get immediate medical attention. Obtaining a thorough and accurate medical evaluation will help strengthen your premises liability claim by ensuring all the proper documentation relating to your injuries is collected.

Premises Liability Laws In Vermont

Individuals who are injured on another person’s property may be able to file lawsuits against property owner for premises liability. In these cases, the property owners can be held financially liable for any and all injuries incurred by guests. Under Vermont law, property owners have a legal obligation to provide a duty of care to all guests. This duty extends the requirement for property owners to maintain their property and act in a reasonable way, aimed to prevent injuries from occurring to others who enter upon the property legally. Some locations, like hotels for instance, are held to much higher standards. A property owner that fails to provide the duty of care to visitors may be held liable for negligence in court by way of a personal injury lawsuit under the state’s premises liability laws. For injured parties to file claims under premises liability, they have to prove that the property owner was aware of the problem and failed to rectify it properly, or that the property owner should have been aware that the problem existed. Additionally, the claimant must prove that the property owner’s disregard of the owner’s duty to fix the issues resulted in their injuries.

Foreseeable Accidents In Vermont

Accidents caused by situations which the injured party should have seen or been aware of will not support a claim for damages.  If the property owners fails to clean broken glass or spilled liquid on a floor and a guest is injured, the owners may be liable. Conversely, if the property owner was aware of the issue, posted a visible “Wet Floor” or “Keep Out” sign in the proper location, and a guest entered and sustained an injury, the injured party is most likely not going to succeed in a premises liability case. Some common premises liability accidents occur due to:

  • Improperly constructed stairs or ramps
  • Ripped or unsecured carpeting and rugs;
  • Uneven or iced walkways;
  • Unsecured merchandise on high shelving;
  • Liquid spills;
  • Dog bites;
  • Broken or missing handrails on staircases; and/or
  • Negligent security.

When there are unsecured statues or cement decorations, guests are able to incur harm if the decoration falls over.

Construction Standards

In Vermont, premises liability cases often focus on whether the building was constructed in accordance with applicable building codes.  Stairs are required to have certain height risers and certain depth, railings are required in specified circumstances, and so forth.  It is often not obvious what Codes and standards apply to a specified location.  The experienced liability attorneys at Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP have particular expertise in determining which codes and standards apply to specific buildings and locations. Of course, there are many types of premises liability cases which involve issues other than construction standards – a few examples are the duty to shovel snow and remove ice, fill potholes, and otherwise provide a safe place for customers or visitors.

Damages Awarded In Vermont Premises Liability Claims

Individuals who are injured on other people’s property due to negligence and failure to maintain can file personal injury lawsuits against the property owner to obtain compensation for their injuries and damages. Some of the most common awards for damages in Vermont include:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Medical expenses;
  • Lost wages;
  • Emotional distress;
  • Loss of consortium;
  • And more.

It is worth noting that medical expenses can often be recovered in a legal claim even if they have been paid by the injured party’s health insurance.  This is based on a legal doctrine called the “collateral source rule,” and our attorneys are very familiar with the nuances of this doctrine. In some cases, victims are able to obtain punitive damages. These damages do not have to compensate a victim for any loss they experience. Instead, they are awarded as a form of punishment toward the defendant for their wrongdoing. There are various Vermont legal principles that need to be understood as to how to maximize the amounts an injured party can receive for a claim, and properly presenting a claim requires a great deal of legal knowledge, skill, and experience.  The experienced trial attorneys at Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP, are aware of how to best recover the full amount allowed by law. Claims such as these are usually covered by the insurance carrier for the property owner.  Our law firm is experienced in dealing with insurance carriers and we have a thorough understanding of how to aggressively assert the rights of our clients.  We always aim to settle a case without going to court if this can be accomplished while obtaining maximum compensation for our client, and this is frequently possible.  But we are also always willing and thoroughly prepared to go to court to obtain an appropriate award if settlement for an appropriate amount is not possible.  We work closely with our clients to explain the options available and to make certain we are proceeding in the manner desired by the client.

A Vermont Premises Liability Attorney Can Help You

Those injured on other people’s property may sustain serious injuries that lead to excruciating pain or even permanent impairment. Filing a claim for damages, while necessary in these cases, can be extremely complicated. Individuals who sustain injuries are not guaranteed compensation for their suffering. It is, therefore, imperative for the injured party to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible, in order to ensure their legal rights are protected. As your legal counsel, the attorneys at Kohn, Rath, Danon, Lynch & Scharf, LLP will diligently work to protect your legal rights to compensation and justice for your injuries. We will put together a case built on strong evidence, witness statements, photographs of the scene at the accident, and medical documents that highlight the injuries you received, the impact they have on your life, and how the property owner is responsible. If you or someone you love has been injured on another person’s property due to no fault of their own, contact the attorneys at Kohn, Rath, Danon, Lynch & Scharf, LLP to discuss your accident and find out if you have a claim at (802) 482-2905.  We will schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to go over all of the facts surrounding your injuries.  Call us today.


Our Attorneys:

Kohn Rath Danon Lynch & Scharf, LLP is a  Vermont law firm located in the Town of Hinesburg, providing a broad and comprehensive array of legal services to our clients.  Our attorneys have experience in many practice areas of the law. (Click on the name of a team member for additional information)

Roger E. Kohn
Roger E. Kohn
Partner - Former President of the Chittenden County Bar Association
David Rath
David Rath
Partner
Beth A. Danon
Beth A. Danon
Partner - Former President of the Vermont Association for Justice (the Vermont Trial Lawyers Association)
David W. Lynch
David W. Lynch
Partner

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