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Common Defenses Against Premises Liability

Home Blog Blog Common Defenses Against Premises Liability

Key Takeaways:

  • Individuals will often blame a commercial entity as being negligent and causing their injuries by claiming one or more accident scenarios, suing for compensation through a premises liability lawsuit.
  • The definition of premises liability is a legal claim individuals make against a property owner, business, or other entity after an injury is sustained.
  • Businesses can utilize a number of effective defensive strategies to protect themselves against personal injury or wrongful death claims.
  • If facing premises liability litigation, it is important to ask your attorney the right questions.
  • To protect your company, ensure legal documents are well-worded to help safeguard from lawsuits.
  • Learn why an experienced premises liability law firm is an option you can use to protect your company and how Orndorff Mowen PLLC can assist your business in defending itself.

Corporations confront significant challenges when faced with claims from individuals who file premises liability claims, alleging injuries occurred at a place of business. Premises liability law is complex and encompasses aspects of legal duty, negligence, and liability, often placing corporations in vulnerable positions.

When an individual seeks damages for injuries attributed to perceived negligence by the corporation, the consequences are immediate. These include:

  • Potential financial losses
  • Negative public perception
  • Damage to brand status
  • Harm to corporate reputation
  • Erosion of stakeholder confidence

Moreover, the emotional strain associated with these claims can escalate as legal proceedings extend, further impacting corporate resources and operations.

Corporations can protect themselves against premises liability lawsuit claims by investing in proactive legal defense and strategic planning. To schedule a consultation, contact the premises liability defense attorneys at Orndorff Mowen PLLC at 866-481-2765.

Types of Premises Liability Your Company May Be Faced With

Individuals will often make claims of premises liability against a business for the following types of accidents with the intent of suing for compensation.

  • Uneven, wet, or icy surfaces
  • Fires
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Construction accidents
  • Stair collapses
  • Falling objects
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Negligent security

Your company may even find itself needing to defend against motor vehicle accidents or dog bites if they occur on your property.

Slip, trip, and fall accidents are among the most common claims, but it’s important to know that West Virginia premises law does allow for a reasonable time of discovery. This means property owners receive a reasonable amount of time after dangerous conditions emerge to give them time to correct the issue and create safe conditions (e.g., a snowstorm is ongoing, creating slippery conditions).

Defense Against Premises Liability Claims

Man falling on the wet ground

West Virginia’s Open and Obvious Doctrine, outlined in Chapter 55 of the WV state code, says a property owner has no duty of care if the hazard or danger is open, obvious, known, or apparent to the injured person. If the cause of an accident is clear, this can be used as a premises liability defense. Other legal strategies that may work in your favor include:

  • Contributory negligence
  • Comparative negligence
  • Control of property
  • Unaware of hazard
  • Unpredictable conduct

Contributory Negligence

Depending upon the circumstances, your company may be able to argue the plaintiff is at fault in states that have contributory negligence rules. This means that even if a plaintiff holds any level of fault (such as texting while walking), they cannot recover compensation from you. Virginia is a contributory negligence state.

Comparative Negligence

If your business is located in a state following comparative negligence rules, you should still speak to an experienced premises liability attorney, as states may have subtle differences in their laws. How to proceed often depends upon state laws. For instance, West Virginia is a comparative negligence state, Kentucky is a pure comparative negligence state, and South Carolina is a modified comparative negligence state.

Control of Property

If you own a property but do not have control of it where the injured party was injured, then you cannot be held responsible for their losses. For instance, if you lease space to a retail store tenant, they typically have control, thus negligence and liability, over the property.

Unaware of Hazard

In premises liability cases, you can only be held responsible if you knew or reasonably should have known the danger or hazard exists. If you can demonstrate you were unaware and the plaintiff cannot show how long the condition existed, you can use unaware of hazard as a potential defense.

Unpredictable Conduct

Accidents sometimes occur under unforeseeable circumstances. For instance, if a person assaults another individual in a parking lot on your property, you could use this as a defense since this was not foreseeable or within your control.

Questions Your Company Should Ask

Construction zone no trespassing sign

To be proactive against negligence claims, companies should stay on top of the property’s condition. Other essential questions to ask in the event of a claim include:

  • Did an actual defect exist?
  • Was there notice of the defect?
  • Did the plaintiff actually suffer the damage they claim?
  • Is the property lease structured in your favor?

Also, West Virginia law favors property owners when trespassing occurs. If the person was a trespasser, then you would not owe them a duty of care, unlike the responsibility for reasonable care you would have for a non-trespasser.

Why Work With Orndorff Mowen

Premises law is often complex, and in many cases, business owners need to equip themselves with skilled legal representation to navigate the complexities of these claims. Orndorff Mowen has significant experience defending premises liability claims nationwide, including in West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania, and Florida.

Types of Premises Liability Cases Our Firm Has Defended Against

The experienced premises liability attorneys at Orndorff Mowen PLLC have successfully defended businesses against toxic tort claims, deliberate intent claims when employer-involved, trespasser claims, and an array of personal injury claims, to name a few.

Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability

Our law firm is often asked several common questions, and here we provide answers.

What Is It Important To Notify Our Insurance?

In the event an individual files a claim, notify your insurance ASAP. Giving timely notice is critical to avoid jeopardizing coverage, and you can obtain information about the full scope of your insurance coverage.

Types of Premises Liability Cases Your Company Might Have to Defend Against

Examples of premises liability cases commercial businesses face include:

  • Slips on floors
  • Falls in parking lots
  • Toxic exposure
  • Injuries in retail stores
  • Negligent security/assault

This is not an extensive list, but a short list of situations where people file claims.

Protecting Your Reputation

Unfortunately, individuals often file lawsuits against premises owners, especially owners who open their premises to the public, such as retailers. In the event you are named as a defendant in a personal injury case, collaborating with an experienced premises liability law firm offers you the necessary legal acumen you’ll need.

The skilled attorneys at Orndorff Mowen PLLC serve businesses nationwide, including West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Florida. To learn more about how we can assist you, contact us at 866-481-2765 or fill out our convenient online contact form.