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Articles Posted in Premises Liability

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There is no question that some dogs are more dangerous than others, or that almost any dog is capable of an attack under the right circumstances. What responsibility should the owner of a dog with dangerous propensities – or the owner of any dog, for that matter – have toward the general public?

A Kentucky appellate court addressed this issue recently in a case in which a woman was severely injured by a pack of dogs during a hunting trip.

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Say the words “slip and fall” and “grocery store,” and a mental image of a shopper sliding across the produce section on a banana peel inevitably comes to mind. It’s so cliché that it’s almost humorous – unless you are a person who broke a bone or herniated a disc in a fall.

The fact is that there are many serious injuries in grocery stores in Kentucky and across the nation each year, many of which could have been avoided had the store fulfilled its duty of care to the customer.

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Generally speaking, businesses such as retail stores, restaurants, and even hospitals have a duty to keep their premises in a reasonably safe condition. When a business fails to do so, it can be held liable for the resulting physical injuries (or even a guest’s wrongful death). Those injured or the family of someone who died can file a premises liability lawsuit.

However, such cases are sometimes difficult to prove, and the plaintiff has the burden of establishing the defendant’s liability. If the plaintiff is unable to make out a case of negligence, he or she will not be able to recover any monetary damages, regardless of the severity of the injuries sustained in the accident.

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Each year, thousands of people are injured in fall accidents. According to statistics maintained by the Center for Disease Control, a significant percentage of these accidents result in serious injury or even death. The case we are examining in this blog post was a fall on ice.

In situations in which a person falls on someone else’s property and is injured, he or she may be able to bring a premises liability lawsuit against the owner of the property, if the landowner’s negligence contributed to the accident. If successful, the plaintiff in such a lawsuit may be able to recover medical expenses, lost wages, compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages.

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When a person is injured on someone else’s property, or when a loved one dies as a result of an accident on another party’s property, there is the possibility of filing a premises liability lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

However, the burden is on the plaintiff to prove his or her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Business and landowners are very resistant to a finding of liability and will fight hard for a dismissal of the case if at all possible.

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A negligence case has four components:  duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. Sometimes, a particular situation – such as a slip and fall injury, an act of medical malpractice, or a defective product – turns a simple negligence case into a more complex inquiry.Sometimes, however, the opposite is true. A recent case from the Kentucky Court of Appeals illustrates this point.

Facts of the Case

In Campbell v. Pro Video Audio Productions, Inc., the plaintiff was working as a professional stagehand at a concert in Louisville in 2012 when his foot became entangled in a tarp placed on the stage. He fell approximately seven feet, hurting his arm, leg, face, and hand. He sued the defendant, who was in the business of providing stage construction and sound system services, alleging that it had created an unreasonably dangerous condition by failing to place handrails around the stage.

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 Businesses and landowners have a responsibility to keep their property safe for visitors. Of course, not every accident will result in a finding of liability because the plaintiff must prove that the defendant knew or should have known about the dangerous condition that caused the fall or other injury and should have taken reasonable steps to prevent harm to those who would be expected to come onto the property for a business purpose or as a social guest.

Commonly referred to as “premises liability” or “slip and fall” cases in the legal system, lawsuits arising from injuries on business property or another person’s land are often hotly contested by the owner of the property where the accident occurred. Often, the defendant will seek the dismissal of the case early in the process, and the court must decide whether the plaintiff has enough evidence to go to trial.

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Workers’ compensation was designed as a compromise. An injured worker does not have to prove that his or her employer was negligent (as is required in most personal injury cases), but the worker’s monetary recovery is typically less than it would be in a negligence case. Whether or not this is a fair trade-off is a controversial subject.

The good news for an injured worker is that he or she can receive medical care and payment of temporary and, if applicable, permanent disability benefits, even if he or she cannot show that the employer did anything to cause the injury complained of. The bad news is that, even if the employer was at fault, the payout to the worker remains the same, with no compensation for pain and suffering or loss of consortium to the injured person’s spouse.

Sometimes, the parties disagree as to whether an injury was sustained during the course and scope of employment. For instance, an employee may be away from the business premises at the time of an accident (such as a car crash) but still arguably engaged in work for the employer.

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By Kurt Maier, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

The basic components of a negligence case are duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. In slip and fall injury cases, called premises liability cases in legal terms, an injured person must also show that the owner or operator of the premises either caused the hazardous condition that led to his or her injuries or had constructive notice of.

The constructive notice element of proof can be shown in several ways, including proof that the dangerous or defective condition had been in place for a length of time sufficient for the defendant to have become aware of the condition in the exercise of reasonable care. Constructive notice can also be shown through the defendant’s recurring conduct or a continuing condition.

Of course, each case is unique, and disagreements can certainly arise as to whether a defendant was constructively notified of a particular situation. In some such cases, video surveillance footage can be an important piece of evidence, even if the slip and fall injury in question was not captured on camera.

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By Jessica Surber, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Sometimes, a single individual, business, or governmental entity is clearly to blame for negligently inflicting harm on an accident victim. But there are also times when the injured person must share in the blame for what happened.

When more than one party bears the responsibility for an accident, fault is determined under the principles of comparative fault, such that an injured party’s settlement or judgment is reduced in proportion to his or her level of fault.

Recently, in the case of Carter v. Bullitt Host, LLC, the Kentucky Supreme Court addressed whether the doctrine of comparative fault was also applicable in premises liability cases involving the allegedly “open and obvious” hazards of snow and ice that caused a slip and fall injury.

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