Common Defenses to Premises Liability Claims
If someone was injured on your property, they might bring a premises liability lawsuit against you. Through a lawsuit, they may hope to pursue compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses they incurred due to the accident.
At Mullen Holland & Cooper, P.A., our premises liability defense lawyers represent property owners, tenants, landlords, and other entities who have been sued by individuals who claim they were injured due to the property owner’s negligence. They may allege that you failed to eliminate a hazard on your property, which led to their injuries.
Below, we will discuss some of the common defenses we use to defend our clients against premises liability claims:
No Awareness of the Hazard
You can only be held liable in a premises liability case if you knew or reasonably should have known about a particular hazard on your property. If you were not aware of the threat, our attorneys could use that as a defense. If the plaintiff cannot show how long the dangerous condition existed or if it’s unclear when the condition first appeared, this can be a strong defense, and you might even be able to get the action dismissed.
For example, if you own a coffee shop and the plaintiff slips on a spilled drink, there may not have been adequate time for you or an employee to notice the spill before the accident occurred. In that case, you might not be liable. Our attorneys could use photo evidence, surveillance camera footage, and witness statements to defend your position.
In some cases, you might be able to argue that the plaintiff was partly at fault for their injuries because the dangerous condition was open and obvious. You might be able to use this defense to prevent liability. North Carolina is a contributory negligence state, meaning that if the plaintiff had any fault for the accident, even just 1 percent fault, they wouldn’t be able to recover compensation from you.
Our attorneys will attempt to show that the plaintiff’s own actions contributed to the accident. For example, if the plaintiff slipped on a poorly maintained walkway in your retail space, but was distracted by texting or another activity, you could argue that if they had been paying attention, they would not have missed the hazard.
In North Carolina, you can prevent liability even if you had some fault for the accident. As long as you can show that the defendant had some responsibility as well, you won’t be liable for compensating them.
If the incident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries was unforeseeable, you might not be liable. For example, if you own a restaurant and the plaintiff is attacked by a third party on your property, you could argue that you are not responsible because the incident was not foreseeable. If you could not have reasonably known that the third party would attack the plaintiff, then you can’t be held liable for any misconduct that occurred, even if it was on your property.
Defendant Doesn’t Control Property
If you don’t control the property on which the plaintiff sustained their injuries, then you can’t be held liable for the plaintiff’s losses. This is true even if you are the property owner. For example, if you own a retail space that is rented by a tenant, then it is the tenant who typically has control over the property, even though they are not the owner. If the plaintiff slips, falls, and injures themselves due to a hazard on the property, the tenant would probably be at-fault. The property owner can’t be held responsible for negligence beyond their control.
Get in Touch With Mullen Holland & Cooper, P.A.
If someone was injured on your property and is pursuing a premises liability claim against you, numerous defenses are available. Contact the North Carolina premises liability lawyers at Mullen Holland & Cooper, P.A. to discuss your case and craft a winning legal strategy. Call us today at 704-864-6751.