West Virginia Premises Liability
Cranston & Edwards PLLC – Morgantown, WV Trial Attorneys
West Virginia’s premises liability law governs the legal responsibilities of property owners, property management companies, occupiers (tenants), and other responsible parties relative to their legal duties and responsibility to prevent injuries to others lawfully using property within the state. Generally, property must be maintained in a safe manner for guests, customers, and visitors to the property. According to law, those who enter a property that does not belong to them fall into three categories, each with a specific duty of care.
Invitee – An individual who has been invited to be present on or in the premises for a commercial or business-related purpose beneficial to the owner of the property, the invitee is owed the highest duty and standard of care. A shopper at a grocery store is an example of an invitee.
Licensee – An individual who has been expressly or impliedly invited to be present on or in the premises by the property owner is a licensee. If the property owner knew (or should have known) of a dangerous property defect that would pose an unreasonable risk to the licensee, yet failed to repair the defect or warn the licensee, and the licensee did not reasonably know about the defect and the risk, the property owner may be liable for injuries sustained by the licensee. A friend or invited guest to a party is an example of a licensee.
Licensee – An individual who enters into or onto someone else’s property for his or her own reasons and purposes without express or implied consent of the property owner is a trespasser. No duty of care is owed to a trespasser unless the property owner is aware of the trespasser’s presence on the premises or likelihood of entering the premises. In some cases, the property owner may owe a duty to warn the trespasser of possible harm and act with reasonable care. A hiker lost on private property is an example of a trespasser.
If you suffered an injury at a premises where you were welcome, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. The experienced personal injury trial attorneys of Cranston & Edwards PLLC in Morgantown offer assistance for those who have been seriously injured through no fault of their own. Contact our legal team for a free consultation: 304-296-3500.
Do I Have a Case?
Comparative Negligence and Open, Obvious, Apparent, and Known Dangers
Many types of accidents involving personal injury are considered premises liability cases. If you were seriously injured on property belonging to someone else, you may be eligible to receive compensation; however, the likelihood of success of this type of case is dependent upon the actual circumstances surrounding the accident.
While West Virginia property owners and other responsible parties are legally responsible to maintain a certain standard of safety regarding their property, “comparative negligence” can also be factored in, as relevant. If your own actions or negligence (such as wearing inadequate footwear for the terrain, texting instead of watching where you are walking, committing a criminal act such as vandalism or theft, etc.) contributed to your injuries, you likely bear some responsibility for the accident. Once your responsibility reaches a certain level, your right to financial compensation may be reduced or eliminated altogether. In addition, legislation passed in 2015 significantly limits premises liability when the hazard or danger is “open, obvious, reasonably apparent or as well known to the person injured as they are to the owner or occupant.”
At Cranston & Edwards PLLC, we can determine if you have a valid claim for the injuries you sustained. Although we all have a responsibility to watch where we are going, this does not mean that property owners are relieved of their duty to help safeguard you from dangerous conditions that they are aware of, but you are not.
Common Premises Liability Accidents
Slip & Fall Accidents – Most common types of premises liability issue; generally involving wet or slippery floors (oil, ice, water, wax, snow, broken food containers, etc.), debris, obstructions, etc.
Hazardous Building Accidents – Poor construction and/or maintenance (loose handrails, stairs or floors that collapse when stepped on, etc.)
Negligent Security – Lack of protection (malfeasant, negligent or no security guards), security cameras, and lights (resulting in rape, assault, and other injuries)
Uneven Surfaces – Pavement, steps, floors, and walkways that are uneven, not level, or have holes, exposed tree roots, or sudden elevations/depressions
Construction Site Accidents – Exposed wiring, electrical defects, faulty ladders/scaffolding/tools, improper use of vehicles and machinery, unsupervised workers, and other dangerous circumstances
Premises liability can extend to any location, including nursing homes, swimming pools, amusement parks, elevators, escalators, playgrounds, churches, stores, restaurants, parking lots, sidewalks, rental properties, and private residences.
If you have been injured in or on the premises of another individual or entity, contact Cranston & Edwards PLLC right away. We understand West Virginia law and can provide a free case evaluation to determine if you are eligible to file a claim for the injuries you sustained. Call: 304-296-3500.