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Currently Browsing: Premises Liability

Can a Government Agency Be Sued Due to Its Negligence to Maintain Roads?

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When it comes to enforcing road safety rules and reminding drivers about the importance of observing traffic laws, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA has never fallen short in the performance of its duties. Regardless of the type of vehicle one drives the NHTSA has programs that are intended to provide whatever information he/she needs to know about road safety.

It cannot be denied, though, that millions of vehicular accidents are faults of drivers. There are stories that say that back in 1896, all the registered cars in the whole of the United States numbered only to just four; two eventually collided with each other. Now, regardless of whether this story is true or not, what counts is the underlying message: that drivers commit mistakes and that these mistakes are followed by accidents.

Records from the NHTSA show that the most common causes of road accidents, wherein drivers are at fault, are drunk-driving, driver error, speeding, driver distractions and reckless driving. However, there are also instances when the causes of accidents are outside of drivers’ control, such as a defective car or car parts, or poorly constructed or damaged road. In the case of defective vehicles, manufacturers can be held liable; in the case of poorly constructed or defective roads, though, can government agencies be sued and held accountable?

The majority of states and the federal government agencies cannot be sued due to their immunity from lawsuits. This immunity, when referencing federal and state governments, is called “sovereign immunity”; if applied to cities, counties and other smaller government agencies, it is called “governmental immunity.”

According to the website of the Cazayoux Ewing Law Firm, despite this immunity, many government agencies, under specific conditions, allow lawsuits to be filed against them. Gross negligence in maintaining a roadway, for instance, is one of the conditions that would allow a plaintiff to sue a government office.

The pain and suffering undergone by individuals who sustain severe injuries in car accidents are no small concerns for these can alter the life of the injured and his/her family. If the cause of the accident is defective road, however, proving government negligence can be a mountainous task.

Three Categories of Visitors Who can File a Premises Liability Lawsuit

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Slipping, tripping or falling is a very common accident in the US. Though the ones most prone to this type of accident are people aged 55 or older, it can happen to anyone and the results can be from bruises to the hand/s or arm/s to fractured bones or a spinal column injury.

Based on injury facts records of the National Safety Council (NSC), more than 8 million slip and fall accidents occur in the US every year. Some of their most common causes include: wet, oily, icy or slippery floors or surfaces; defective staircases; uneven, loose or broken floors, steps, sidewalks or stairs; unsecured rugs or carpets; and, hidden or tangled extension cords.

While one may immediately think that people who slip or fall should blame no one else except themselves (for being careless), in the mind of a Milwaukee accident attorney, the one at fault may actually be the owner of the property (a homeowner, the owner of a business establishment or a landlord) where the accident occurred.

Property owners, especially places that are open to the public, such as malls, hospitals, government offices, supermarkets, parking lots, playgrounds, swimming pool areas, restaurants, food courts, churches, etc., have the responsibility of keeping their premises free from risks of accident at all times, or they can face legal complaints, more specifically, premises liability lawsuit, from people who get injured while within their premise.

Premises liability is defined as a landowner’s accountability for certain injuries suffered by persons on his or her property where a defective or unsafe condition exists. More than just sustaining an injury due to slipping, tripping or falling, premises liability also includes in its scope injuries that are caused by falling objects, open excavations, electrocution, broken benches or chairs, and so forth.

Proof of ownership of property and breach of the duty of care or negligence on the part of the property owner in making sure that his or her property is kept from risks of accidents, are important factors for premises liability to apply. Thus, an injured person may have the legal right to seek compensation from the property owner whether he or she is:

  • An Invitee – a person (maybe a friend, a relative or a neighbor) who has a landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter his or her property
  • A Licensee – a person, who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter the property, but who goes there for his or her own amusement or purpose, rather than for business purposes. Party guests, family friends, people who enter stores to ask about something or to retrieve something that they own, are examples of licensees
  • A Trespasser – a person who, actually, has no authority to be on the property.

Slip and Fall Accidents: Their Usual Causes and Effects

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Sometimes, an ordinary case of slip and fall can result in injuries that no one would even think can be severe. Many victims, however, will tell you that some incidents of slip and fall have resulted to fractures which have caused them great pains or impairment.

According to the Chris Mayo Law Firm website, falls are listed among the top causes of injuries in the US. This information is clearly substantiated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), which says that more than two million fall injuries are recorded every year. The commission further gives the following details about this common cause of personal injury:

  • The most serious consequence of falls is fracture, hip fracture
  • Slips and falls are the leading causes of work injuries, especially for people between 15 and24 years old, and of lost days from work
  • The most common causes of the accident include spills on floors, weather conditions, plumbing issues, uneven steps or floors, inadequate lighting, unnecessary clutter, slick or slippery floors, lack of guardrails, railings and warning signs, exposed wires and other trip hazards

Though an injury sustained through a slip and fall accident may be blamed on the injured person him or herself, the property owner, is mainly responsible for making sure that his or her establishment or property, is free from hazards that may cause such falls, especially if it is a commercial or public place (like a mall, a restaurant or eatery, any paved establishment).

Failure by the owner to ensure safety on his or her property can amount to negligence which, if it results to an injury, may require compensation for the injured individual. Injured victims on the other hand, will definitely find having a legal professional on their side an advantage in fighting for their rights and interests.

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