Today we will be talking about premises liability law also known as slip and falls. My guest is attorney Valeen Hykes and she is going to talk with us about this topic. So Valeen thanks for being here today.
Valeen: Thank you for having me.
Dei: Well Valeen what is premises liability law?
Valeen: It’s basically a legal theory that holds owners and occupiers of property responsible for injuries or accidents that occur on their premises.
Dei: Okay and what kinds of visitors may sue for premises liability?
Valeen: Well there are a couple of types of visitors the first one is an invitee and that’s somebody who is on the premises or with the permission of the owner, so somebody such as a customer or in a grocery store would be considered an invitee, somebody who is invited onto their property, the other type of visitor would be a licensee and a licensee is somebody who goes onto a property for their own purpose or basically as a social guest, and then the other type of visitor would be a trespasser and that’s somebody who basically has no right whatsoever to be on that property.
Dei: And who is liable for injuries on their property?
Valeen: That would be the owner or the occupier of the property, in some circumstances we have maintenance companies who may be responsible they may have a contract with the owner occupier that we may be able to hold responsible for the injuries.
Dei: Valeen how quickly must property owners clear a hazard?
Valeen: They should do that as soon as they have notice, so as soon as they have notice they should take some steps towards taking care of the hazard that exists.
Dei: And are property owners responsible for sidewalks directly outside their property?
Valeen: Generally yes and again and it just depends who is the owner or the person in charge of the maintenance of that area, in some circumstances it may be a government entity or agency and then certain rules would come into play at that time.
Dei: So what happens with clearing ice and snow from sidewalks in residential areas, who is responsible for that?
Valeen: That would generally be the property owner the person who owns the property or is in possession of the property would be responsible for clearing the ice or snow, taking care of the area.
Dei: And are there special provisions of premises liability law for young children?
Valeen: There are and it actually has to do with the duty to warn, basically if a property owner or occupier is aware that children are likely to come onto their property then they have a duty to warn them of conditions that are likely to result in death or serious bodily injury.
Dei: And what are the steps to filing a premises liability law suit?
Valeen: The first thing that we do usually is we try to negotiate with the insurance company or the person whose liable for the injury, if that of course doesn’t get us to where we want to be then we would file either a rite of summons or a complaint, usually in these types of circumstances we usually just file the complaint, that way we can do some discovery to determine if we do have the proper owners or people in charge of the area that should be held responsible for the injuries.
Dei: So Valeen how can a lawyer help in this type of a matter?
Valeen: Well I think that having a lawyer in this type of situation is very important and the reason I feel that way is because the set of laws are very complex and there are a lot of ways where 90% of these cases are denied at the initial stages and negotiation stages so the majority of the time based on my experience we do have to put the claims into litigation so I think it’s very important to have somebody who knows the complex set of laws that apply.