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Alabama premises liability law imposes a duty on property owners to ensure their property is reasonably safe for visitors or to provide an adequate warning of any risks. Property owners who fail to do so, including a business or individual, can be held liable for any personal injuries suffered because of their negligence.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one because of a property owner’s carelessness, you may be entitled to money damages that can pay for your medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering. Call Belt & Bruner at our toll-free number or use our online form. We can provide a free consultation about your case.
What is an Alabama Property Owner’s Duty to Visitors?
Premises liability law applies to business owners who entice the general public to visit them, including retail stores, shopping malls, hotels, motels and even service providers such as accountants and law firms. Homeowners have the same obligation to make sure their property is reasonably safe for visitors.
To prevail in an Alabama premises liability legal action, the injured person must show that:
- the property owner knew the dangerous condition existed, and
- the property owner failed to eliminate the hazard or to adequately warn of its existence, and
- the dangerous condition contributed to the plaintiff’s injury.
In some cases, such as when someone trips on a steep stairway or a store display falls on a shopper, the property owner is presumed to have known the dangerous condition existed because it was part of the premises or was erected by the storeowner.
However, if the hazard is one that the defendant can show was an “open and obvious” danger that the plaintiff should have recognized, the plaintiff’s claim would be rejected.
Because Alabama is a “contributory negligence” state, the court can decide whether a plaintiff was partly responsible for his injuries. If so, the court can reduce any financial recovery by a percentage based on the plaintiff’s share of responsibility for the accident and/or injuries.
Common Premises Liability Actions
Slip-and-fall accidents, such as those that happen because a store failed to clean up a spill, are the most common incidents leading to premises liability claims. A storeowner or his designee – manager and/or staff – is obliged to clean up spills in a timely manner or to mark a puddle that can’t be cleaned right away with a warning sign. Floors that are slippery because they have been mopped should be marked with warning signs as well.
Several other property hazards that should be repaired in a timely manner and/or properly labeled with warning signs include:
- Broken or uneven floor tiles, steps, decks or sidewalks
- Obstructed sidewalks, walkways, stairways or store aisles
- Broken handrails and stair treads
- Dark entryways, hallways, stairways, stairwells or parking lots
- Non-locking or otherwise malfunctioning doors and windows
- Malfunctioning elevators and escalators
- Stacked merchandise or equipment that could fall
- Open holes, ditches, trenches or pits
- Defective or broken playground or amusement park equipment
- Insufficient security that could allow theft, robbery and/or assault
- Unsecured firearms
- Swimming pools, waterparks, etc., that are inadequately secured or supervised
- Construction sites
- Unsecured chemicals or other toxic substances
- Dogs that bite and other dangerous animals.
Premises Liability Accident Injuries
Injuries from falls are among the most common in the U.S. Twenty to 30 percent of people who fall suffer moderate to severe injuries, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Every year, one in three adults over age 64 falls. Falling is the leading cause of injuries that lead to death among older adults.
Falls can cause such injuries as:
- Head traumas / traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Neck injuries
- Back / spinal injuries
- Hip injuries
- Shoulder and arm injuries
- Broken / fractured bones
- Sprains, strains, dislocations, tears
- Lacerations (cuts)
- Contusions (bruises).
In addition to injuries, many people who fall but are not injured develop a fear of falling, the CDC says. This fear may cause them to limit their activities, which leads to reduced mobility and loss of physical fitness. This, in turn, increases their actual risk of falling.
Other injuries suffered because of unsafe or dangerous property are self-evident. Merchandise at a store or equipment at a construction site that falls on a person can cause head and neck injuries, including TBI, or any other kind of impact injury. A dog bite can cause cuts, tears and bruising and even death. Unsupervised or unsecured swimming pools or other swim areas can lead to drownings or near-drownings, which may cause permanent disabilities. Unsecured guns can injure or kill as a result of an accident or an assault.
Damages Available for Victims
Injuries suffered because of unforeseen property hazards may range from painful cuts and bruises to debilitating back injuries, null (TBI), paralysis or death. In some cases, such as vicious dog bites or a violent assault, the victim could suffer lasting psychological damage. Any of these injures would result in medical bills and lost wages, as well as pain and suffering. In some cases, punitive damages may be warranted.
Contact Our Lawyers Today
Belt & Bruner has successfully pursued lawsuits against corporate and individual property owners for injuries that were suffered because of hazards on their property. We know how to negotiate with insurance companies, and we are aggressive in the courtroom. To learn more, call our premises liability lawyers today at our toll-free number or use our online contact form. We can evaluate your case for free.