DANGEROUS PREMISES ATTORNEY
IN OMAHA, NEBRASKA
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.
SOURCES OF DANGER
Common causes of premises liability injuries include:
Slippery floors and grounds: These can involve wet or otherwise dangerous floor surfaces on the interior, and icy and snowy conditions on the outside on walkways, parking lots, and building entrances. Slips and falls, according to the World Health Organization, are the second-leading cause of accidental deaths worldwide.
Negligent security: If adequate security is not provided, and a robbery, rape, or assault occurs on the owner’s premises, the owner may be held liable.
Substandard maintenance: Dangerous premises can result if the owner/occupier fails to exercise the proper duty of care to find and fix hazards, and to warn of them while awaiting a permanent fix. Examples include broken stairs and handrails, or exposed wires, nails, screws, or sharp objects.
Animal and dog attacks: You are responsible for keeping the pets and animals on your property in secure enclosures or otherwise prevented from attacking visitors.
Swimming pool accidents: Owners are required to keep their pools locked or guarded, and at all times to keep them safe.
OSHA AND WORKSITES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to maintain safe and healthy working conditions under its General Duty Clause. This umbrella protection applies to all types of industries and business enterprises.
If you’re injured as an employee at your place of work, workers’ compensation laws require you to file a workers’ compensation claim. Both employer and employee are relieved of liability under workers’ compensation, so a personal injury claim would generally have to be filed against a third party (i.e., a company that supplied a piece of equipment that proved defective and led to your injury).
COMPENSATION UNDER PREMISES LIABILITY
Personal injuries are covered by Section 25-207 of the Nebraska Revised Statutes. Under this law, you are allowed to recover economic damages for medical expenses and lost wages and also non-economic damages for pain and suffering and loss of consortium.
Note, however, that Nebraska employs a “modified comparative fault” rule. This means that if you’re deemed, either in court or during insurance negotiations, to be partially at fault, your reward will be reduced by your percentage of fault. Say you’re found to be 20% at fault and the judgment is $10,000, you’ll receive only $8,000 after your percentage of fault is deducted. Also, if you’re deemed to be 50% or more at fault, you are ineligible for compensation.
WHY YOU SHOULD HIRE AN ATTORNEY
If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property due to their negligence, you should definitely seek recovery of damages starting with their insurance company. Insurance adjusters, however, will try to low-ball you or deny your claim altogether. In negotiations, they will often use every trick in the book to get you to say something they can use against you to assign fault to you or to diminish the extent of your injuries — or even question if your injuries are legitimate.
DANGEROUS PREMISES ATTORNEY SERVING OMAHA, NEBRASKA
If you have been injured on someone’s property, let our team at Harris & Associates, P.C., L.L.O., work for you. We’re used to dealing with the adjusters’ tactics and diversions and will fight for the compensation you truly deserve. We’re proud to serve clients in or around Omaha, including the nearby counties of Douglas, Sarpy, Dodge, and Lancaster.