What Are Dangerous Conditions?
Under Missouri law, owners and occupiers of land and premises have a duty to protect others from dangerous conditions. Dangerous conditions take on many different forms. Some of the more common dangerous conditions in Missouri cases are:
- Icey Areas
- Wet Areas
- Cracks In Surface
- High Voltage or Electricity
- Snowy Areas
- Sharp Objects
- Improper Lighting
The level of protection from dangerous or unsafe conditions that a landowner owes to an injured party depends on the status of that injured party. In Missouri, there are three different statuses that ultimately have a large impact on premises liability cases. These statuses are:
Trespasser: One who comes onto the land without permission from the landowner
Licensee: One who enters onto the land with the landowner’s permission for the entrants own business as opposed to the landowner’s business AND
Invitee: One who enters onto the land in response to an invitation from the landowner
Insurance Company Tactics
Most premises liability cases involve dealing with an insurance company. When dealing with a an insurance company on a premises liability case, it is important to note the following:
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE NOT ON YOUR SIDE
When insurance companies find out about a potential premises liability claim, they will contact you immediately. They will ask you to obtain at least one, sometimes two estimates on your car’s damage. They will ask you to provide a statement of what happened and they will ask you to provide them with all of your medical records and bills related to the accident. At first, these insurance companies will appear to be on your side and may come across as someone who is trying to help you get through your injury. Despite this, after complying with all of their demands, the insurance company will offer you a settlement which is substantial inadequate. Most of the time, the offer doesn’t even cover your medical bills, let alone your pain and suffering.
Missouri Comparative Fault Law
Insurance companies will employ many different tactics to try to convince you that your claim isn’t what you think it is. One of these tactics is to tell the injured party that they contributed to the accident. This is called comparative fault.
Comparative fault is a doctrine recognized by Missouri law which essentially allows fault or blame to be placed upon the injured party. Specifically, juries are told that if they see fit, they may assign a percentage of fault to an injured party based upon the facts of the case. For example, a jury may find that an injured party’s actions, although not the main reason, still contributed to the accident occurring and as such will assign fault to the injured party. This assignment of fault will reduce your award in proportion to the percentage assigned.
Insurance companies are well aware of this doctrine and will often times abuse this doctrine in an attempt to make the injured party believe they played a role in the accident. Insurance companies will make a determination for themselves as to what percentage of blame is to be placed upon the injured driver. For example, insurance companies will allows assign a significant percentage of blame to an injured driver who was injured in an accident due to being cut off by another driver. Despite following all applicable rules and regulations, insurance companies simply think being cut off by another driver is the injured party’s fault. Of course, this doesn’t follow simple logic, but that is how insurance companies think.
Why You Need to Hire a Lawyer
When an attorney gets involved in a premises liability claim, insurance companies take notice. They begin to realize that they can no longer take advantage of an injured person who is in a bad situation. Insurance companies know that an attorney has the ability and resources to properly investigate an accident. Likewise, an attorney understands all the facets of a personal injury claim giving you a distinct advantage against the insurance company. All in all, when an attorney gets involved, the insurance company knows that the injured party means business.
What We Can Do For You
The Law Office of Steve Slough routinely handles dangerous condition cases. The firm prides itself on standing up to insurance companies and fighting for victims of dangerous conditions. We have experience in dealing with insurance companies and know how to quickly discredit the theories they use to deny your claim.
If you have been injured due to a dangerous condition, please feel free to call our office for a free consultation.