Kentucky Premises Liability
For many American businesses, individuals, and government entities, real property is an important asset. But with the privilege of ownership or control of property comes responsibility—especially when members of the public are invited or allowed to be there. Whether you are:
- an individual who invites friends into your home
- a business owner or developer who opens a property to workers, business clients, or customers
- a government agency providing services to the public and a workplace for its employees
- a public or private institution
- you lease or manage a property that is visited by others
you have a legal obligation to maintain your premises in a reasonably safe and secure condition and to protect the lives and health of those visitors.
If you fail in your duty to keep your premises reasonably free of hazards and, as a result, someone is injured or killed, you may be held liable for that person’s injuries and required to compensate the victim for his or her damages. This is the essence of the legal doctrine of premises liability.
Examples of Premises Liability
The most common type of legal case invoking the doctrine of premises liability is a slip or trip and fall accident where some hazardous condition causes a person to lose footing and fall, resulting in a serious injury. There are many other situations in which a property owner can incur liability for injury and wrongful death, however. These include
- Drownings and near-drownings
- Injuries and fatalities suffered by crime victims due to lack of appropriate security
- Burns caused by preventable fires, explosions, or electricity from faulty wiring
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Exposure to lead or other toxic substances
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Various other situations in which the owner has either created a hazardous condition or turned a blind eye to an existing hazard
If you or someone you love suffered a serious injury on someone else’s property that could have been prevented by proper maintenance or attention to appropriate safety measures, you may be able to recover money as compensation for your economic damages, as well as non-economic damages that affect your quality of life, in a premises liability legal action. At the Bowling Green, Kentucky, law firm of Lowder and McGill, PLLC, our skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys have years of experience and success in assisting clients in obtaining compensation for their losses in a wide variety of premises liability cases. Keep reading for an overview of about some of the types of premises liability cases we handle.
Slip, Trip, and Fall Accidents
Slip, trip, and fall accidents are more than just an embarrassment; they can produce catastrophic or even fatal injuries: spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, fractures, neck and back injuries, facial injuries, and others. A trip or slip and fall may be caused by a wet and slippery floor, merchandise that has fallen from a display shelf, food or drink spilled on the floor of a restaurant, a damaged or uneven sidewalk, a pothole in a parking area, or many other negligent conditions.
Fires and Gas Explosions
Gas leaking from a worn gas line, stove, or other appliance, improper storage of a flammable substance, frayed electrical cords, overloaded circuits, or other fire hazards can cause an explosion or fire that may be attributed to the property owner’s negligence, especially if the building lacked a working sprinkler system, smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, or a means of safely exiting the building.
Older buildings from before 1978 may contain layers of lead-based paint (which is now illegal to sell). If the top layers of paint begin to chip or peel, the lead-containing layers may be exposed and ingested by young children. Sanding, drilling, or sawing painted surfaces during renovations can release paint dust containing lead into the surrounding area. Lead is a particular hazard to children and pregnant women. When breathed in or ingested, it can cause developmental delays and other health problems. Landlords should have their premises inspected, warn tenants when there is a possibility of older layers of paint containing lead, and take appropriate measures to protect tenants, workers, and others from exposure to lead paint and dust. Some construction workers, notably bridge painters, are also at risk and should be provided with protective gear on the job. Building owners and employers who fail to provide appropriate warnings and protection may be held liable when people are harmed by lead exposure on their premises.
Playgrounds and Amusement Accidents
Special care is required on premises where children play, such as playgrounds, theme parks, and public and commercial recreation areas. Those responsible for choosing, installing, and maintaining play equipment may be held liable for injuries on equipment that inherently unsafe or age-inappropriate, or which is hazardous due to lack of a soft ground cover or faulty maintenance. Daycare centers, schools, and other places that care for children must supervise them to prevent accidents from equipment misuse on their premises or face liability claims if children are injured.
Drownings, Near Drownings, and Swimming Pool Accidents
Swimming pools, lakes, wells, reservoirs – and even buckets of water – can pose a drowning hazard to young children. Fatal drownings and near-drownings, which often cause irreversible brain damage, are a leading cause of accidental death and catastrophic injury in children between the ages of one and fourteen. Drowning and near-drowning accidents are a leading cause of death and injuries among children this age. Premises owners who have a pool or other water on their property that can be an “attractive nuisance” to children need to take steps to prevent access by unsupervised children (by enclosing it with a child-proof fence and locked gate, for example). Other means of preventing pool accidents include preventing decks from becoming slippery, installing drain covers to keep swimmers’ hair from being sucked into the drains and trapping them underwater, inspecting the pool’s lights and electrical system for defects, and promptly repairing loose or broken ladders, steps, or diving boards. If a serious injury occurs because the property owner has been negligent in securing or maintaining a pool or the area surrounding another body of water, it may be possible to hold that owner liable for injuries or a wrongful death that should have been prevented.
Colleges and universities owe a duty of care to students, staff, and others on campus to maintain their grounds, buildings, walkways, and roadways in a safe condition and to provide adequate security to prevent crimes that could result in injury or death. Examples of on-campus premises liability accidents include:
- On-campus car accidents
- Trip and fall accidents
- Assault and battery, sexual assault, and other crimes due to inadequate security
- Fires and explosions
- Laboratory accidents
- Accidents caused by lack of maintenance of structures or grounds
- Sports accidents
Negligence in these and other areas may incur liability on the part of the school’s administration if injuries occur on or near the premises.
Dog bites and other animal attacks typically fall within the realm of premises liability claims. Nationwide, dog bites were responsible for more than one-third of all claims against homeowners’ insurance policies in 2015. Insurance payments on dog bite claims exceeded $570 million that year.
When it comes to dog bites and other injuries caused by animals, Kentucky is what’s known as a “strict liability” state. A dog’s owner is liable for injuries caused by the dog, even if the owner had no reason to believe the dog might be aggressive and even if he made a reasonable effort to control the dog. You can claim damages from the owner without having to prove negligence. If you were attacked by a dog in Bowling Green or anywhere in Western Kentucky, contact Lowder and McGill, PLLC, as soon as possible. You have a limited time in which to file a claim, so don’t delay.
Worksite Premises Injuries
Benefits for injuries incurred on the job are usually paid through the employer’s Workers’ Compensation insurance carrier. In some situations, however, a person injured in the course of his or her employment may have a third-party claim against the owner of the premises where the work was being performed (if other than the employer) if the owner negligently created a dangerous condition or allowed one to exist, causing a serious injury or fatality.
Elevator and Escalator Accidents
Elevators and escalators in malls, office buildings, apartment buildings, and so forth, if improperly installed, inspected, or maintained, are sometimes the cause of premises injuries. Mechanical malfunctions, exposed elevator shafts, and broken steps on escalators are a few of the conditions that can cause an injury accident, resulting in a premises liability claim.
Get Prompt Legal Help If You’ve Been Injured on Someone Else’s Premises
If you have suffered a serious injury on property belonging to someone else because the property was not properly maintained, if the property lacked adequate security to prevent your becoming a victim of a violent crime, or if the owner, lessee, or manager of the property created or allowed a hazardous condition to exist on the premises, you may have a valid legal claim to recover money to compensate you for your economic damages— including medical expenses, loss of earnings, and other accident-related expenses—as well as your non-economic or quality-of-life damages, like pain, suffering, disability, disfigurement, emotional anguish, and loss of enjoyment of your life. You should never attempt to settle a claim on your own; research shows that those with quality legal representation walk away with substantially more money than those who attempt to negotiate their own settlement. Having an attorney who understands the law and its application as well as being familiar with insurance company tactics designed to protect their bottom line can make a very significant difference in the outcome of your premises case.
At the law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC, we have successfully handled premises liability cases for years. You can count on our skilled and experienced personal injury attorneys to give your case the focused attention it deserves and to work tirelessly to achieve a positive outcome for you. We can settle many cases without your having to go to court; we are always fully prepared to present a persuasive case to a jury, however, if that is what is required to get you the money you deserve and need. We offer a free case analysis, and we accept injury cases on a contingency fee basis. You only pay us after we have won money for you. You pay nothing up front, nothing out of pocket, and nothing ever―until your recovery award check arrives at our office.