Premises Liability Lawyers
Experienced premises liability attorneys serving Fairfax, VA and surrounding areas
You may not think about the threats to your safety when you are out dining, shopping, or going about your daily routine, and you certainly do not consider yourself at risk of accidents when at work or your apartment complex. Like many others, you probably assume that these Virginia property owners comply with their legal duty to keep their spaces safe. Sadly, many do not, putting you and those you love in harm’s way. Dangerous conditions can lead to serious accidents, causing severe injuries and even fatalities.
Fortunately, Virginia law provides you with options if you were hurt because a property owner’s breach of duty. The basis for your remedies is a legal concept termed “premises liability,” a type of personal injury case. At Leary Law, P.C., our lawyers have extensive experience advocating on behalf of victims who are harmed because a property owner failed to properly maintain the space. We are dedicated to getting fair compensation for your losses, so please contact us to schedule a no-cost consultation with a Virginia premises liability attorney. Some background information may also be helpful.
Overview of Virginia Premises Liability Laws: As a type of personal injury case, premises liability focuses on the rights of victims when they are hurt due to hazards on property. These claims are familiarly known as slip and fall cases due to how they commonly occur, but there many different causes and various injuries can result from them. The basic legal theory behind premises liability is that property owners have a duty to keep their spaces safe, and this responsibility derives from two key sources:
Statutory Duties of Property Owners: The Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (USBC) is a set of regulations that owners and those in control of property must comply with when constructing a new structure, making repairs or renovations, and changing the use of a building. The responsible parties must also adhere to the USBC in maintaining an existing building. Examples of building code regulations include requirements to:
- Install fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and other fire prevention features;
- Ensure handrails and staircases are in proper working order;
- Provide sufficient lighting in common areas;
- Inspect, repair, and maintain elevators; and,
- Make sure electrical outlets and wiring are safe.
Property Owner Duties Under Common Law: Some obligations do not come from written laws passed by the government, but through judicial interpretations of case law over the years. Courts have determined that property owners have a duty to ensure that the premises is safe from foreseeable hazards. The key is whether the owner had notice of the dangerous condition, since the responsible parties can only be expected to protect against issues that are reasonably foreseeable. In many cases, a property owner’s common law duties will overlap with those defined by statute.
One of the most common premises liability claims in this category is that the entity in control over the space was negligent in providing security. A victim who was attacked, assaulted, or otherwise harmed may have a cause of action for inadequate security when the property owner knew of the potential for criminal activity.
How a Virginia Premises Liability Case Works: The legal concepts and process for recovering compensation are extremely complex, so you can count on our team at Leary Law, P.C. to handle the details. However, it is helpful to know the various steps involved with pursuing monetary damages for your losses.
- Retaining an Attorney Assisting Attorney: You should make it a priority to consult with a lawyer who focuses on premises liability and other personal injury cases. Our attorneys have extensive experience representing clients, and in-depth knowledge of the laws and court rules that apply to your case.
- Investigation: You will officially initiate the legal process by filing a claim with the property owner’s insurance company, but there is substantial background work in advance. Our team conducts a meticulous investigation of the scene of the accident, the dangerous conditions that caused it, underlying and contributing factors, and many other details.
- Demand: Once we have sufficient evidence to support your claim, we will submit a demand for compensation from the insurance company. The package will include the results of our investigation, along with your medical records that describe the nature and severity of your injuries.
- Settling the Case: It is rare that an insurer will automatically pay damages according to the demand, since the company’s primary goal is to protect its bottom line. Our attorneys will engage in negotiations in an attempt to settle your claim for a fair, reasonable amount.
- Litigation: If the insurance company refuses to settle, we will need to file a lawsuit in court to obtain the compensation you deserve by law. Some of the tasks we will handle on your behalf include:
- Drafting the complaint and other documents to initiate litigation;
- Attending pretrial court appearances;
- Engaging in written discovery and oral depositions;
- Filing and defending motions; and,
- Fighting for your rights at trial.
Compensation for Injured Victims: Whether we are negotiating with an insurance company or representing you in court, our goal at Leary Law, P.C. is to obtain monetary damages to compensate you for your extensive losses. We will seek:
Economic Damages: One type of compensation relates to out-of-pocket costs and losses that have a dollar value. Examples include:
- Medical expenses to treat your injuries;
- Lost wages, if you were unable to work after being hurt in a premises liability incident.
Non-Economic Damages: Some losses are not quantifiable in dollar value, but you certainly suffer various hardships after being hurt. Pain and suffering, emotional distress, and related losses are considered non-economic damages.
Potential Limitations on Your Premises Liability Claim: Even when you have sufficient evidence regarding fault and the extent of your losses, there are a few legal concepts that may impact your case.
- Statute of Limitations: Virginia imposes time restrictions on personal injury cases, including premises liability claims. You must file a lawsuit in court within two years after the accident, or you are forever barred from recovering compensation.
- Contributory Negligence: There is a harsh rule that applies to premises liability cases, and it puts the focus on your actions in a premises liability accident. If you were at fault in any way in the accident that led to your injuries, you cannot recover any compensation for your losses. An example might be sliding down the railing of a staircase and falling because it broke. Though the property owner was negligent in failing to make repairs, you were also careless.
- Trespassing: Closely tied to contributory negligence is the bar on recovering compensation if you were not legally present upon the property when you were hurt. Virginia property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers, so you cannot obtain monetary damages for breaking the law.
Set Up a No-Cost Consultation with a Virginia Premises Liability Lawyer Today
While this overview on premises liability laws may be useful, it should also demonstrate how important it is to retain skilled legal counsel to assist with your case. To learn more about your remedies and the legal process, please contact Leary Law, P.C. at our offices in Manassas or Fairfax, VA. Once we review your circumstances, we can advise you on your legal options and get started on developing a strategy to enforce your rights.