Premises Liability Accident Lawyer in Ocala, Florida
Property owners and those who control property cannot simply do whatever they want on their property when they hold it open to you. If you are an invited guest, a customer, or someone with a right to be in public areas, these property owners owe you a duty of care.
If they breach the duty of care and it causes you an injury, you have a legal right to financial compensation. First, you must hire an experienced lawyer to hold the property owner accountable and then negotiate or fight for the right amount of compensation.
Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A. handles premises liability cases in the Ocala area.
We often see preventable accidents at:
- Publix or Key Food Supermarket
- Walmart, Costco, or other big box stores
- SkyZone or other recreational activities
- Ocala Regional Sports Complex or other sports venues
- One of the Marion County Public Schools or any other school in the region
- Condo or apartment complexes
Anywhere you visit in Ocala, there is a risk of a premises accident. Our law firm obtains successful results for clients injured in many accidents, and we can assess your rights.
Examples of Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability cases cover a wide variety of properties and circumstances.
Here are some examples of different types of premises liability cases:
- Slip and fall lawsuits
- Swimming pool accidents
- Failure to have enough security in the face of known risks to patrons
- Dog bites
- Escalator accidents
- Fire safety cases
- Actions against landlords for injuries to tenants
Proving Negligence Is the Key in Premises Liability Cases
Every item in the broad list of cases above has something in common. They all rely on the same legal standard you must meet to meet your burden of proof. That standard is negligence.
Negligence means that someone else’s wrongful acts were to blame for your injury. To prove negligence, you will compare what the defendant did to what a reasonable property owner would have done under the circumstances. If the property owner’s actions fell short and caused your injury, you may recover financial compensation.
Although the core principle is the same, negligence can mean something different in each case. Everything depends on individual circumstances.
Negligence in a Slip and Fall Case
For example, in a slip and fall case, you will need to prove that the defendant was negligence by showing:
- The property owner themselves created a dangerous condition.
- The property owner knew or should have known of the dangerous condition created by someone else and did not do anything to warn the general public or fix it within a reasonable amount of time.
In a negligent security case, the property owner must take sufficient action to protect the public by taking security measures when they knew or should have known that the area was dangerous.
How to Prove Your Premises Liability Case
If you suffered an injury due to a dangerous condition on someone’s property, the court might ask what the property owner knew and when they knew it. They may seek to learn what the property owner did to prevent the dangerous condition, including maintenance steps and inspection of their property.
In any premises liability case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that the defendant was negligent. If you cannot meet this burden, you will not be in a position to get financial compensation.
You Must Have Evidence in a Premises Liability Case
The key thing that helps you carry your burden of proof is evidence. You must show what the property owner did and knew. Often, you need to come in after the fact and put your case together. It is hard to gather evidence at the time of your injury because you are hurt. The chances are that you are reading this in the days after you have suffered an injury. These are critical days because evidence can prove your claim, but it will disappear fast if you do not take quick steps to obtain it. However, you are not in any position to do this yourself.
It is your attorney that will gather the evidence that can prove that the defendant was liable.
Here are some forms of evidence that can help in a premises liability case:
- Pictures of the scene of the accident, in the time before and immediately after your injury
- Property records for the area where the accident occurred
- Maintenance records that can show whether the property owner inspected the area and whether they did anything to fix it
- The accident report (assuming that you reported it to the police at the time)
- Security camera footage that shows the conditions at the time of your accident
- Witnesses who saw what happened to cause your accident or who were there to see the conditions
- Expert witness statements and opinions from people who have the experience and qualifications to offer an opinion on your accident
How a Premises Liability Lawyer Helps You
After your accident your lawyer may:
- Speak with you and learn more about your case
- Generally explain your legal options
- Once you hire them, they will take steps to begin to investigate your case
- Your lawyer will learn more about your injury to begin to value your claim
Your lawyer may recommend that you move forward with your case when:
- They can conclude that someone else was to blame for your injuries
- They know who was responsible for the injury
- Your damages have become more apparent because you have reached the point of maximum medical improvement
It May Be a Challenge to Figure out Who to Sue
It may take some doing to figure out the proper party to sue for your injuries. Real estate owners and investors often place their properties into LLCs to protect themselves from liability. Property owners may have complicated legal structures that make it challenging to learn who owns the property. We will search property records and establish who owns the property and where you can go to get financial compensation.
In most cases, the roads will lead to a corporate entity that owns the property and will be responsible for the damages you suffered (unless you were injured in someone’s home or on public property, such as city streets).
Having a corporate defendant is usually a good thing for an accident victim because it means an extensive insurance policy can compensate them. For example, a large store will not have a smaller policy because you can go after the store itself for any damages that the insurance does not cover. Businesses want to stay in business, so they invest money in insurance coverage and let the insurance company act as their representative and guard dog.
Damages in a Premises Liability Case
Once your lawyer has compiled enough evidence, they will also need to place a value on your case. In a premises liability case, the law entitles you to the same damages as from any personal injury case. This payment can cover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages pay you for your actual financial losses. Non-economic damages pay you for what you went through and will continue to go through because of your injury.
Here are what economic damages will pay you:
- Your full medical bills both in the past and the future
- Lost wages from the time that you missed from work or for any reduction in your earning capacity
- Property damage that you have suffered
Non-economic damages are more subjective. They measure what you have suffered. Your accident will change your present, and it may affect your future.
You can suffer:
- Anxiety and depression that come from your injuries
- Loss of enjoyment of life because you cannot do what you did before the accident
- Emotional distress from the incident that injured you
- Embarrassment and humiliation from what happened and your injuries
You are entitled to damages for all of these, although they may be difficult to value. You can bet that the insurance company has its view about these damages that values them at far less than you. The insurance company will try to use an objective number to value your pain and suffering, even though it smacks of their financial self-interest.
Getting Financial Compensation for Your Premises Liability Injuries
Mentioning the insurance company leads to a discussion of your legal options after your accident. Many people will opt to file a lawsuit against the property owner and at least begin the case in court. Some may go directly to the insurance company to see if they can save time by successfully filing a claim. Your lawyer will advise you about what is best for you.
Regardless of the option you choose, you can expect to deal with the defendant’s insurance company. When they are the ones obligated to pay the damages according to the policy’s language, they will defend their client. If you choose to deal with them directly, the insurance company has a long list of tricks to pay you less for your injuries or escape trying to pay you altogether.
How Insurance Companies Limit or Eliminate Your Financial Recovery
Here are some things that insurance companies try to do to save money in premises liability cases:
- Contacting you to ask a few questions while recording the statement to use against you
- Minimizing the extent of your losses to make you a lower settlement offer
- Asking you to sign documents that make it very unclear about what you are signing
- Making you successively low settlement offers to wear you down and get you to take less for your injuries
- Arguing that you were careless yourself and were the reason for your injury
- Arbitrarily denying your claim even in the face of solid evidence proving their client’s liability
- Claiming that your injury was pre-existing or resulted from something else other than the accident
In any of these situations, you need an experienced premises liability attorney to push back. You do not just have to sit back and take what the insurance company gives you. Chances are, if you are determined enough, the insurance company will eventually give you what you deserve. If not, you have the legal right to go to court.
Lawsuits cost the insurance company money, and your lawyer is working for you on a contingency basis. Attorney fees for insurance companies have skyrocketed recently, and lawsuits are expensive for them too. If your case has merit, they will know it and may eventually move more towards your position.
What to Do After a Premises Liability Injury
After any premises liability injury:
- See a doctor so you can get a diagnosis for your injuries, medical treatment, and lay the groundwork for your claim.
- Contact an attorney to get legal advice and begin the process of seeking financial compensation.
Make both phone calls immediately, with your family and your long-term situation in mind. Do not delay either call because it can affect your health and your ability to hold someone accountable for what happened.
While you may be preoccupied with dealing with your injuries, you cannot wait to contact a lawyer. The sooner that you start the legal process, the sooner you may get a check for your injuries. However, the legal process can take considerable time, so do not delay it by waiting to call a lawyer.
Contact an Ocala Premises Liability Accident Lawyer Today
Your lawyer needs to be tough and determined to get justice from you, both from the defendant and their insurance company. At Steven A. Bagen & Associates, P.A., we leave no stone unturned as we fight for you and your family. We recognize what is at stake for you because we help clients daily. We also recognize that no two clients are alike, and we take the time to learn about your situation.
1521 S Pine Avenue
Ocala, FL 34471
My experience was more than great, from the moment I acquired about their services to the moment my case was finalized and settled, there was steady communication, and I was consistently in the loop. They explain things to you in a way that you can understand and ensure that you are involved in the decision making. Everyone is super kind and stays in contact with you even after settling. They truly care about your well being and I will definitely keep them at the top of the list for any other cases.