Premises liability claims are a type of legal claim that arises when someone is injured or harmed while on someone else’s property. These claims are important in Arizona because they allow individuals who have been injured on someone else’s property to seek compensation for their injuries.
Here’s everything you need for a better understanding of premises liability claims in Arizona and to discuss common defenses that are used in these types of cases.
Understanding Premises Liability Claims in Arizona
In Arizona, premises liability claims are based on the legal theory of negligence. Property owners have a duty to maintain their property in a safe condition and to warn visitors of any known hazards. If a property owner fails to fulfill this duty and someone is injured as a result, the injured person may have a valid premises liability claim.
In Arizona, a premise can be any type of property, including private homes, commercial buildings, and public spaces such as parks and sidewalks. There are several different types of premises liability claims, including slip and fall accidents, dog bites, and inadequate security claims.
Common Defenses in Premises Liability Claims in Arizona
Defendants in premises liability claims often use various defenses to try to avoid liability. Some of the most common defenses include the assumption of risk defense, comparative fault defense, and open and obvious defense.
The assumption of risk defense is used when the defendant argues that the plaintiff knew of the danger and chose to take the risk of injury. For example, if someone decides to climb a fence marked “no trespassing” and is injured, the property owner may argue that the plaintiff assumed the risk of injury by knowingly trespassing on the property.
The comparative fault defense is used when the defendant argues that the plaintiff was partially at fault for their own injuries. For example, if someone slips and falls on a wet floor in a grocery store, the store may argue that the plaintiff was wearing inappropriate footwear or was not paying attention and therefore contributed to their own injuries.
The open and obvious defense is used when the defendant argues that the danger was so obvious that the plaintiff should have seen it and avoided it. For example, if someone trips over a large pothole in a parking lot, the property owner may argue that the pothole was clearly visible and that the plaintiff should have avoided it.
Assumption of Risk Defense
The assumption of risk defense is often used in premises liability claims involving recreational activities, such as skiing, snowboarding, or rock climbing. When someone engages in these types of activities, they assume the risk of injury that is inherent in the activity. For example, if someone is injured while skiing, the ski resort may argue that the skier assumed the risk of injury by participating in the activity.
However, the assumption of risk defense is not always applicable. In order for the defense to be successful, the defendant must prove that the plaintiff understood the risks involved and willingly assumed those risks.
Comparative Fault Defense
The comparative fault defense is often used in slip-and-fall accidents. In Arizona, the comparative fault defense allows a plaintiff to recover damages even if they are partially at fault for their own injuries. However, the damages awarded will be reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to the plaintiff.
Open and Obvious Defense
The “open and obvious” defense is often used in premises liability claims involving hazards that are clearly visible. An open and obvious defense is not always successful. In Arizona, the “open and obvious” defense may not apply if the defendant created the hazard or failed to provide adequate warnings. Additionally, the defense may not apply if the plaintiff was distracted or had a legitimate reason for not seeing the hazard.
Premises liability claims are an important legal tool for individuals who have been injured on someone else’s property. However, defendants often use various defenses to try to avoid liability. Understanding the common defenses in premises liability claims in Arizona, including the assumption of risk defense, comparative fault defense, and the open and obvious defense, can be helpful in navigating these types of cases.
It is important to consult with an experienced premises liability attorney to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. By doing so, you may be able to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
What you need to know
The role of the plaintiff’s conduct
In premises liability claims, the plaintiff’s conduct can also play a significant role in determining liability. If the plaintiff’s conduct contributed to their injury, then the defendant may be able to use this as a defense. For example, if a plaintiff was running in a store and slipped on a wet floor, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the accident.
The impact of state laws on premises liability claims
Each state has its own laws and regulations governing premises liability claims. In Arizona, for example, the state follows the “pure comparative fault” rule, which means that even if the plaintiff is found to be partially at fault for their injuries, they can still recover damages. This is in contrast to states that follow the “modified comparative fault” rule, which may limit a plaintiff’s ability to recover damages if they are found to be partially at fault.
The importance of evidence in premises liability claims
Evidence is crucial in establishing liability in premises liability claims. This can include witness statements, photographs of the hazard, and any records or reports related to the incident. It is important to gather and preserve evidence as soon as possible after an accident to ensure the strongest possible case.
The impact of insurance on premises liability claims
In many cases, the defendant in a premises liability claim will be covered by insurance. This can impact the outcome of the case, as the insurance company may have a vested interest in minimizing the amount of damages awarded. It is important to understand the role of insurance in premises liability claims and to work with an experienced attorney who can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
The potential for punitive damages
Punitive damages are a form of compensation that is intended to punish the defendant for particularly egregious conduct. In the context of premises liability claims in Arizona, punitive damages are generally only awarded in cases where the defendant acted with a conscious disregard for the safety of others.
While the potential for punitive damages varies on a case-by-case basis, the use of common defenses in premises liability claims can sometimes increase the likelihood of such damages being awarded. For example, if the defendant is found to have intentionally concealed a hazardous condition on their property, this could be viewed as particularly egregious conduct that warrants punitive damages.
Punitive damages are generally only awarded in addition to other forms of compensation, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The total amount of compensation awarded in a premises liability claim will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of the plaintiff’s injuries and the extent of the defendant’s liability.
In addition to the specific defenses outlined in the blog (assumption of risk, comparative fault, and open and obvious), defendants in premises liability claims may also try to argue that the plaintiff was a trespasser on their property. Trespassers are generally owed a lower duty of care than invitees or licensees, so this defense could limit the defendant’s liability if successful.
However, there are certain exceptions to the general rule that property owners owe no duty of care to trespassers, so it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine the strength of this defense.
In some cases, the defendant may argue that the plaintiff was engaged in horseplay or other risky behavior that contributed to their injuries. This defense can be particularly challenging to overcome, as it requires demonstrating that the plaintiff’s actions were not a contributing factor to their injuries.
It’s worth noting that premises liability claims can be particularly complex in cases where multiple defendants are involved. For example, if the plaintiff was injured in a slip and fall accident at a shopping mall, there may be multiple parties who could be held liable, such as the mall owner, the property manager, and the cleaning company responsible for maintaining the floors. In some cases, defendants in premises liability claims may try to shift blame onto the plaintiff’s employer or other third parties.
For example, if the plaintiff was injured while working on a construction site, the property owner may argue that the plaintiff’s employer was responsible for ensuring a safe work environment. However, the property owner may still be liable if they were aware of a hazardous condition and failed to take steps to address it.
By understanding the common defenses used in premises liability claims in Arizona, plaintiffs can better prepare for their case and increase their chances of a successful outcome. Working with an experienced attorney can be critical in navigating the complex legal issues involved in these types of cases and ensuring that the plaintiff’s rights are protected.
What are the common Defenses in Premises Liability Claims in Arizona?
Premises liability claims in Arizona can include slip and fall accidents, inadequate security, dog bites, and more. When faced with such claims, defendants have several common defenses. These include:
- Comparative negligence: Defendants may argue that the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to their injury and that they should be held partially responsible. Arizona follows a comparative fault system, meaning that the plaintiff’s damages can be reduced based on their degree of fault.
- Assumption of risk: Defendants may argue that the plaintiff knew the risks associated with their actions but chose to engage in them anyway.
- Open and obvious danger: Defendants may argue that the dangerous condition was so apparent that the plaintiff should have been aware of it and avoided it.
- Lack of knowledge: Defendants may argue that they were not aware of the dangerous condition and therefore could not have taken steps to prevent it.
Reasons to Hire an Attorney for Premises Liability Claims
Premises liability claims can be complex, and having an experienced attorney on your side can make all the difference. Here are a few reasons why hiring an attorney for premises liability claims in Arizona is crucial:
Attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to navigate complex legal issues and ensure that their clients rights are protected.
Negotiating with insurance companies
Insurance companies are skilled at minimizing payouts, and having an attorney can help level the playing field and ensure that the plaintiff receives fair compensation.
Attorneys can help gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong case to support the plaintiff’s claim.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Premises Liability Claims
There are several potential damages and compensations available to plaintiffs in premises liability claims. Hiring an attorney can increase the likelihood of receiving full compensation. The benefits of hiring an attorney include:
Plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage.
Plaintiffs may be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress, and other non-monetary losses.
In some cases, plaintiffs may be entitled to punitive damages if the defendant’s actions were particularly egregious. These damages are intended to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
How to Choose the Right Attorney for Premises Liability Claims?
Choosing the right attorney for premises liability claims in Arizona is crucial. Here are a few things to consider when selecting an attorney:
- Experience: Look for an attorney who has experience handling premises liability claims in Arizona and a track record of success.
- Communication: Choose an attorney who is responsive and communicates well with their clients.
- Trust: You should feel comfortable trusting your attorney and be confident in their ability to represent your interests.
Schenk Podoslky Attorney At Law
Premises liability claims can be challenging and complex, and understanding common defenses is crucial for both plaintiffs and defendants. Hiring an experienced attorney can help you navigate the legal process and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome. If you or someone you know has been injured on someone else’s property, it’s important to seek legal representation and protect your rights.
Give us a call at Schenk Podolsky Mesa, Arizona, for a free consultation and to learn more about premises liability claims.