Slip and Fall
A property owner’s duties of care in Nebraska change according to the type of visitor. An invitee receives the highest standards of care, while a licensee receives slightly less. A trespasser, on the other hand, does not lawfully have the right to expect any duties of care from a landowner. If you own property in Nebraska where a trespasser suffered an injury, in most cases, the trespasser cannot hold you liable for damages. Important exceptions to the rule exist, however. To learn more about how to deal with an injured trespasser, contact our premises liability attorney in Omaha.
You Intentionally Injured the Trespasser
If you were unaware the trespasser was on your land without permission, the only duty of care you owe him or her is not to act in a willful, reckless or wanton manner to injure the trespasser. You do not have a duty to maintain a safe premises, but you do have a duty not to cause an intentional injury to a trespasser that does not appear to pose a threat. Acting in self-defense is a plausible justification for causing a trespasser an injury, and you likely would not be liable for damages in this situation.
Your duties of care change, however, when you become aware of the trespasser on your property. You must treat a discovered trespasser with ordinary care. This includes protecting the trespasser from a foreseeable hazard, such as a hole on your property or an aggressive dog. If you fail to warn the trespasser about the hazard and he or she suffers an injury as a result, you could potentially be liable for his or her damages, even if the trespasser did not have your permission to be on the property.
The Trespasser Is Under 18
Your duties of care are also different toward trespassers who are under the age of 18. Child trespassers deserve the same degree of care as invitees on your property in the eyes of the law. Your duties will include maintaining a safe premises, checking for hidden hazards, repairing known defects and warning of foreseeable risks. You must, therefore, take steps to reasonably prevent injuries to children who may trespass on your property – namely by putting barriers around attractive nuisances.
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous property element that is inherently attractive to children, such as a swimming pool, trampoline, old well, antique car, heavy machinery or farm animals. By putting an attractive nuisance on your property, you take on added responsibilities to keep trespassing children safe from potential related dangers. The law will expect you to take reasonable steps toward preventing foreseeable injuries, such as placing a fence around a swimming pool. If you fail to do so, you will most likely end up liable for a child’s injuries, even if that child was trespassing.
You Failed to Control Your Dangerous Dog
Cases involving known dangerous dogs are also unique. A dangerous dog according to Nebraska Revised Statute 54-617 is one with a record by an animal control authority stating that it has killed a person, inflicted a serious injury (one requiring medical treatment) on a person, killed a domestic animal or has previously achieved dangerous dog status by another animal control authority. Owners of dangerous dogs have greater duties of care to protect the public than typical pet owners. This includes keeping the dog on a leash in public places and not moving the dog out of the county.
If the trespasser on your property suffered a serious injury in a dog attack, and animal control has previously designated your dog as dangerous, you could be liable for the damages. You may have to pay for the trespasser’s medical bills and other losses if an investigation finds that you were negligent in the control of the dangerous dog under the state’s related laws. In most cases, you will be liable for any damages your pet causes if you knew of the dog’s dangerous propensities but failed to take proper precautionary measures.
Premises liability claims involving injured trespassers are complex. If you need help refuting liability for a trespasser’s injuries on your property, speak to an attorney in Omaha.
Slip and fall accidents are some of the most common causes of customer and guest injuries in Omaha, Nebraska. Shopping malls, grocery stores, and other businesses may fail to reasonably prevent customer falls by ignoring spills or failing to post warning signs. After a slip and fall accident that causes serious injuries, you may be eligible for financial recovery. Obtaining this recovery, however, will take proving one or more party’s fault for the fall.
Report Your Accident Right Away
Failing to report your slip and fall to a manager or supervisor could immediately hurt your chances of securing compensation. If you do not report your accident, there might not be any record of it happening. The defendant could argue the fall did not happen the way you said it did since no record of events will exist. Although another form of evidence, such as surveillance footage, may support your claim, notifying someone of your fall can protect you.
Tell an employee, supervisor or business owner about your slip and fall accident right away. Describe exactly what happened. For your own notes, write down the name of the person you spoke to and how he or she reacted to the information. If the employee fails to file an official accident report or even to remedy the hazard, it could be further proof of the store’s negligence.
Take pictures of important evidence that could serve your case in the future. This includes the location of the fall, the hazard that caused you to slip, your personal injuries and other relevant details. The evidence you gather from the scene could provide important proof of someone’s negligence during your injury claim.
- Photographs of the store and floor
- A written description of what happened
- Time and location of the accident
- Video or surveillance footage
- Copies of accident reports
- Maintenance records
- Sweep logs
- Repair or service documents
You should also keep copies of information that prove your injuries, such as letters from doctors, official diagnoses, test results, x-rays, prescriptions, and treatment plans. A lawyer can help you gather evidence such as maintenance logs from the store. If you contact an Omaha slip and fall attorney right away, he or she can call the store immediately and request an order of preservation. This will force the company to preserve and submit its cleaning and maintenance records during the discovery phase of your case.
Another action your lawyer can take during discovery is to subpoena the defendant or witnesses. A subpoena orders someone to attend court or a hearing. Subpoenas can help your lawyer gather sworn testimony about your slip and fall accident. The defendant or an eyewitness may have pertinent details that help your case. Requesting statements in the form of depositions can serve as important proof during your claim.
Hire a Slip and Fall Lawyer in Omaha
Proving liability in a slip and fall accident claim takes establishing a few main elements. First, the property defect or hazardous condition existed long enough that a reasonable business would have noticed and repaired the defect. Second, the defendant was negligent in remedying the issue. Third, your injuries occurred because of the defendant’s negligence. Fourth, you suffered compensable harm in the slip and fall. You or your lawyer must prove the fall was foreseeable, yet the defendant did nothing to prevent it.
Hiring a slip and fall accident lawyer can ease the burden of proof during a premises liability lawsuit in Nebraska. Your lawyer can visit the place where you fell to help you collect evidence. He or she can then use this evidence to build a case against one or more responsible parties. Your lawyer can handle the claims-filing steps and negotiate for a settlement award that suits your damages. An attorney with experience can help you prove fault after a slip and fall.