Charlotte Injury Lawyer Matt Arnold answers the question: “Do I have to pay taxes on a settlement or jury award in a personal injury case?”
If you fall in a store or a restaurant or a friend’s house, does that automatically entitle you to compensation? Some people think that anything bad that happens on the property of another person is worthy of compensation. Though sometimes that may be true, there are a number of complicated factors that determine whether a personal injury premises liability claim is possible. If a property owner knew about a dangerous condition and did nothing to fix it, you might stand a good chance at collecting some money. If the property owner took reasonable care of the premises and your accident occurred seemingly out of the blue, you might find yourself on your own when the medical bills arrive. To find out more, keep reading.
The first element of any premises liability case is categorizing the visitor. Visitors fall within one of three broad categories: invitees, licensees and trespassers. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care; meaning property owners must not only protect these people from obvious dangers, but also inspect the premises for unknown harms. Examples of invitees include diners at a restaurant or shoppers in a store, people who you have encouraged to visit your property and to whom you thus owe a great deal of care. Examples of licensees include friends and family members who visit your house for social reasons. Property owners owe these people a reasonable duty of care, but are not required to shield guests from unknown dangers. The final category of guests are trespassers. Given the fact that these people are on your property without permission, very little care is owed. Property owners must provide an ordinary level of care, especially if the property owner is aware that trespassers are present. Slightly different rules apply for children, but we can cover that another time.
The next element of a premises liability case is to uncover how much, if anything, the property owner knew. If the property owner was aware of a dangerous condition and did nothing about it, it makes for a very clear negligence case. Obvious dangers, such as ice on your sidewalk or holes in your yard or rotten floorboards on your porch are things that property owners can be and almost always are held responsible for. If the danger is not obvious, meaning it’s hidden, then the case against the property owner gets a lot more difficult. The property owner can argue that he or she was not aware of the danger and that he or she should not have known about it. If the property owner has generally done a good job keeping up with the property and could reasonably not have known about a danger, that can be enough to defend against a negligence claim.
Another important factor is whether a property owner was told of the harm. If, for instance, a landlord was warned about a dangerous front porch and the landlord did nothing to investigate, the landlord can be held responsible for any harm that results from the dangerous condition. It isn’t a defense to say you didn’t personally observe the harm; being warned by others is enough.
Finally, it matters whether the property owner is responsible for creating the dangerous condition. If a grocery store clerk drops a bottle of wine and a customer slips and falls, responsibility and thus legal liability becomes much easier to demonstrate.
If you or someone close to you has been injured, contact an experienced personal injury attorney today who can help you receive the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC for a free consultation, call at 704-370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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