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Personal Injury

Owners Must Warn You of Hazards on Their Property

October 31, 2019

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than three million Americans, including many in Montana, are treated in emergency departments each year for slip and fall injuries. While falls are particularly common among the elderly, no age group is immune. As any knowledgeable Billings slip and fall attorney will tell you, too many of these falls are caused by hazards on someone’s property. No two falls are identical but, in general, if one can show that the property owner negligently maintained the property or failed to warn of hidden hazards, the property owner can be found liable to the fall victim for monetary damages.

Common Types of Slip and Fall Injuries in Montana

Falls can result in a host of different injuries, including

  • Broken legs
  • Cracked hips
  • Injuries to the back or spinal cord
  • Even traumatic brain injuries.

To Recover Damages for Slip and Fall Injury, You Must Establish That the Property Owner Was At Fault

Recovery of damages resulting from a slip and fall isn’t automatic in Montana. Generally, one must establish that the property owner was negligent or otherwise at fault. In most situations, fault is shown in one of two ways:

  1. Establishing that the property owner failed to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition
  2. Establishing that even if the property was maintained, the property owner failed to warn of dangers to those visiting or using the property

Level of Duty Depends Upon What Type of Visitor in on the Premises

The duty owed a visitor to the property depends to an important degree on what sort of visitor is involved. For example, if you have been specifically invited to the owner’s property–a friend says, for example, “Come over for the Super Bowl,” then that the property owner owes you a duty to warn of hazards such as loose bricks on the front steps, rickety banisters, hidden dips or depressions in the property where one might reasonably be expected to walk. A property owner may be so used to the problem that he or she gives it no thought — the lack of head room as one descends the steps into his “man-cave.” The owner is under an obligation to warn you, however.

If you are a “business invitee” — someone who is on the property for some commercial or business purpose, the owner also has a strong duty to warn of any hazards and to take reasonable efforts to prevent you from being injured by one of those hazards.

While there is much less of a duty on the part of the property owner to warn a trespasser, if the property owner knows that trespassing is common (for example, if the owner knows that persons use a corner of the property as a short-cut), there is still a duty to warn of dangerous conditions.

Posted Signs May Not Be Sufficient Warning

While posted signs near hazards may provide some sort of warning to those on the property, they do not guarantee the property owner has complied with the legal duty to warn. In some cases, the signs are misleading. In others, they be too general. Ask an experienced a skilled Billings slip and fall attorney; a sign that warns of “hazards ahead,” but which fails to identify the sort of potential hazards present is generally insufficient to avoid liability by the property owner for the slip and fall injury. 

Recovery for Slip and Fall Injuries Usually Requires a Skilled Billings Slip and Fall Attorney

The issues in slip and fall claims differ somewhat from those in other types of personal injury cases, but the damage from a fall on property can be as serious — sometimes even more serious — than a typical auto accident. When it comes to moving forward with slip and falls claims, experienced legal counsel is important; it’s often vital. It often requires the gathering and preservation of important evidence. It typically requires skilled negotiation, patience, and resilience. If you (or a family member) have been involved in a slip and fall accident, particularly if you sustained physical injury, you owe yourself (and your family) an obligation: the obligation to recover your full measure of damages in order that you can move beyond the tragedy. The time to secure your damages may be limited. Contact an experienced Billings slip and fall attorney at Ragain & Clark, PC today to discuss your legal options.

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