You’re visiting a friend at his home and on the way to the bathroom, you slip on some liquid on the floor, fall, and hit your head. You’ve suffered an injury, and under Nebraska law, the property owner is liable for what happened. But do you really want to sue a friend? Is there another avenue to collect compensation?
Now, in a different scenario, you’re inside a downtown store whose owner is completely unknown to you. You reach for something on a shelf, and several objects fall down onto you, causing injury. Which law pertains to this? Can you sue for personal injury?
These two scenarios are really the same type of incident, but one involves someone you know while the other doesn’t. The legal principle underlying both is called premises liability, and yes, you can sue or you can file a claim with the other’s insurance company.
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s dangerous premises, whether it be a business, school, worksite, or a person’s home, you may indeed have cause for a personal injury claim. If you’re in or around Omaha, Nebraska, or nearby in Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, or Lancaster County, contact the dangerous premises attorneys at Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O. We’ve been helping clients like you for more than 40 years.
Premises Liability in Nebraska
Premises liability requires property owners to exercise a “duty of care” to maintain hazard-free environments, or to post warnings of potential hazards so that visitors on the property can avoid those hazards. In addition to the property owner, others who may be liable include the property developer, landlord, property manager, building manager, lessee, or tenant.
If injured, your first recourse is to seek recovery from the liability insurance policy of the property owner, or occupier, and if that stalls or leads nowhere, you can seek recovery through a personal injury lawsuit.
To successfully win a premises liability claim for your injuries, you must meet four legal standards, proving:
- The defendant owned, leased, or occupied the premises
- The owner (or occupier) had a legal duty to protect you (see the section below on classes of visitors)
- There was a breach of duty in maintaining the premises in safe conditions
- The owner’s or occupier’s negligence led to your injury
Another factor in seeking compensation is your status while on the other party’s property. Nebraska law recognizes three types of visitors to a property: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. The property owner/occupier owes the highest duty of care to invitees, who are on the premises for the defendant’s financial benefit (an invitee is often a customer).
Licensees are social guests who are on the premises with the expressed or implied permission of the owner and can be asked to leave at any point.
A trespasser is on the premises without the owner’s permission. A licensee who refuses to leave becomes a trespasser. The owner owes no duty of care to trespassers and cannot be held liable unless an on-site injury is intentional.