Many victims of a slip and fall or other premises liability accident wrongfully assume that the business’ or property owner’s obligation to compensate them is automatic. This is far from the truth in many cases where the owner’s insurance company denies the claim or tries to reduce the amount to be paid. If you were hurt in one of these accidents, you will need to prove all the elements of your claim. In addition, you want to anticipate the defenses that could be raised against you by the insurance company so that you can defeat them and obtain the compensation that you deserve.
What Must You Prove in Your Premises Liability Case?
You must understand what needs to be proven in your premises liability case if you want to collect the right evidence that you will need. Basically, you must prove the following:
- You were an invitee, licensee, or social guest.
- The business or property owner owed you a duty to keep the property in a safe condition and to inspect it.
- The duty of care to you was breached because the owner knew or reasonably should have known of the danger on the property.
- You suffered injuries as a direct result of the owner’s breach of its duty of care.
What Defenses Could the Business or Property Owner Raise in Your Case?
The defenses that could be raised when you file your claim will depend on how your accident happened and the nature of and severity of your injuries. If you can anticipate the ones that the adjuster will likely make, you can figure out how to argue against his arguments and convince him to settle your claim for what you are owed.
There are common defenses that insurance companies—and their attorneys—use in these types of cases. Here are some defenses that could be raised in your case:
- Assumption of the risk. Assumption of the risk is a very common defense raised in premises liability cases. To win this defense, the adjuster would need to show that you knew of the danger, understood and appreciated the risks of the danger, and voluntarily exposed yourself to these risks. For example, an amusement park owner might argue that guests assumed the risk when they knew of the dangers of the rides and chose to enter the park and ride them anyway. An experienced attorney will know how to argue against this defense given the particular facts of your case.
- Comparative negligence. The insurance company could argue that you were partially at fault in causing your injuries and are entitled to less in a settlement because of this. Georgia follows a comparative negligence rule which reduces the amount of compensation you deserve by the percentage of your fault in causing your accident. For example, if your damages were $200,000 and you were found to be 10 percent at fault, you would be entitled to $180,000 in damages—still a substantial sum. However, if you were 51 percent or greater at fault, you would not be entitled to any damages.
- Pre-existing injuries. When using this defense, the adjuster is not denying the business or property owner’s liability. Rather, he is claiming that a prior injury to the same part of your body in the accident is the cause of your current injuries.
- Discounting the seriousness of the injuries. When you suffer strains and tears to your muscles, tendons, or ligaments in your shoulder, spine, neck, back, or other parts of your body, these are often referred to as soft tissue injuries. These injuries can cause surprisingly intense levels of chronic pain and can require long-term periodic treatments when the condition flares up. Insurance companies often try to argue that these injuries are not as serious or limiting on the victim’s activities as is claimed. This argument is used with other injuries as well.
Let Brauns Law Help You With Your Premises Liability Case
David Brauns understands the defenses that could be raised in your case since he started his legal career defending insurance companies. He has used this knowledge to develop strategies to successfully defeat these types of defenses. If you were hurt in a slip and fall or other premises liability accident, fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.