When a person or company fails to keep their property safe, and causes you injury, or causes death to a family member, you may be entitled to compensation for the costs and damages related to your injury.
The Charlotte personal injury lawyers from Johnson & Groninger PLLC will help you present your premises liability case and make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at (704) 200-2009 today.
Like many cities, Charlotte is home to dangerous buildings and living spaces
Many Charlotte residents report that the conditions and premises of their apartment complexes are unsafe and unkempt. Property owners can be liable when they don’t abide by their legal duty to ensure that those premises are safe for residents and lawful visitors.
Lake Arbor Apartments
Residents of the Lake Arbor Apartments were awarded $500,000 in a lawsuit which alleged that the property owner failed to make necessary repairs to the apartments but continued to collect rent.
This apartment complex was plagued by mold, rodents, and cockroaches for many years.
Over 100 people were negatively impacted by the property manager’s inactions and failure to correct the numerous problems reported by the tenants. The apartment owner was cited for 184 code violations for unsafe living conditions in a single year.
Residents in the Avalon Heights apartment complex in Charlotte reported that their property forces residents to live in unsafe conditions. There were infestations of spiders and other pests, and large holes in the walls that allowed the pest problems to persist and spread.
Multiple parents noted that issues with the apartment building made their children sick, and many reported injuries due to spider bites.
Inadequate plumbing in buildings throughout Charlotte and North Carolina
73 counties in North Carolina lack a minimum housing code, as the state makes them optional, not mandatory. This means that tenants in these counties are largely without recourse when living in unsafe conditions.
Complaints across these counties include sewers running into fields, unconnected homes forcing residents to use the outdoors for a restroom at their home property, and other issues that can lead to serious health problems. North Carolina is in the process of establishing mandatory minimum housing codes which, if implemented, and enforced, will improve living conditions for people across the state.
Premises liability claims we handle
North Carolina recognizes two types of land users: trespassers and invitees.
- A trespasser is a person who enters land without the permission of the owner, and they are afforded very little legal protection.
- An invitee is someone with permission or a right to be on a property, in which case the property owner has a duty to maintain the safety of the property for them, to varying degrees depending on the circumstances.
The state suggests that landowners limit their liability from trespassers and invitees alike by:
- Appropriately posting their land with signs that indicate it’s private property
- Exercising reasonable precautions when allowing land use like using fencing and appropriate signage
- Remove attractive nuisances, such as trampolines, playgrounds, or pools, that might draw people to the property
- Warning users of any dangers if there are any
- Carrying appropriate and adequate liability insurance
- If allowing people to enter your land, seek competent legal advice regarding land use contracts
If you were injured by a landowner’s failure to ensure your safety on their property, you could be entitled to compensation. Below are some examples of premise liability cases where we’ve helped our injured clients receive compensation.
Burns and smoke inhalation
Property owners have a duty to maintain fire safety in a building, which includes having adequate safeguards like smoke detectors, emergency lighting, and exits. Burns and smoke inhalation injuries can be severe and can lead to significant medical bills, permanent injury, ongoing surgeries and treatments, and a loss in the quality of life.
Crimes committed due to inadequate security
When there’s a known potential threat to the safety and security of land users, property owners have a duty to employ sufficient security to protect land users against injury. If you’ve been the victim of an assault, battery, sexual assault, robbery, or other crime due to the lack of sufficient security, you could be entitled to compensation for the related damages.
Dog bites and other animal attacks
Under North Carolina Code Sec. 67-4.3, a dangerous dog that attacks a person and causes medical treatment in excess of $100 is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. The injured person may also seek compensation from the dog owner for the costs associated with the injury.
Drownings and swimming pool/waterpark accidents
Property owners must prevent wandering children from an “attractive nuisance” on their properties by using fences and other safety measures to keep unwanted visitors out, and keep children safe from the risk of drowning.
We’ve worked with a number of clients who experienced electrocution injuries while invitees on property. Electrocutions and electrical shocks can have long-lasting and debilitating effects and should not be taken lightly.
Elevator and escalator injuries
Buildings with elevators and escalators that are open for use must maintain their safe operation. Building owners may try to save money on maintenance and upkeep fees, leading to faulty escalators and elevators.
Flooding and flooding-related issues, including mold illness
Flooding is a serious issue that can destroy a property if not effectively treated after the fact, which includes water damage inside a building. When flooding or water damage isn’t treated properly, it can result in rotting wood, structural damage, and the proliferation of mold which can create innumerable health risks.
Slip-and-fall injuries are some of the most common premise injuries that we’ve assisted clients with. If a property owner fails to take reasonable measures to prevent or warn of a dangerous condition, and you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation.
Snow and ice accidents
Weather events like rain or snow may require property owners to provide additional safety measures to those persons who are authorized to be there. For example, malls have a duty to clear the parking lot and common walkways from snow and ice hazards if they remain open to the public.
Apartment complex owners have a duty to maintain the safety of internal roads and walkways by plowing, salting, or taking whatever measure appropriate to protect residents from snow- and ice-related dangers.
Damages to which you may be entitled
If you or your personal injury lawyer have evidence that the property owner is liable, you could be entitled to compensation to cover all costs and damages associated with your injuries.
Economic damages are those that can be calculated because they are tangible–they can be easily calculated and include:
- Medical bills – both your short- and long-term medical costs like emergency room bills, treatments, medications, surgeries, rehabilitation, and any ongoing care that is needed in the future
- Lost wages and work benefits – any compensation for work you missed during recovery, including doctor’s appointments and rehabilitation, and work benefits like accrued vacation and sick time, can be an element of your compensation
- Lost earnings potential – when your injury negatively impacts your ability to work and the amount of money that you can earn following your injury, you’re entitled to the difference in your earnings ability from the time of your injury through the remainder of your working life
- Property damage – if your personal property was damaged during the accident, you could be entitled to the value of the property in your compensation
Non-economic damages are damages that do not automatically have a value attached to them, as does medical care, car repairs, and other economic damages. Non-economic damages include damages for pain and suffering, loss of activities, and scarring, for example.
Non-economic damages require well-developed evidence to prove, and require reference to similar cases to provide guidance and precedent.
In determining the value of non-economic damages, the court will look to the unique facts and circumstances of the accident or incident, the culpability of the responsible party, and related statutes.
Understanding NC premises liability laws
The damages discussed above are only available to invitees because property owners have a duty of care to invitees, but not to trespassers. If you were injured on someone’s property, the determination of your status as a trespasser or invitee is crucial to your ability to recover damages.
Trespassers and invitees
Trespassers don’t have permission to be on a property, therefore the property owner doesn’t owe the trespasser any substantial duty of care.
“Avoiding willful or wanton injury to the trespasser”
This is the only duty of care a property owner has to a trespasser, and it entails not directly engaging in activities that would harm the trespasser. For example, setting up traps or automated weapons to injure trespassers would be a violation of that duty of care.
If a trespasser enters a property, falls down a hillside and breaks their legs, the property owner owes them no duty. If the trespasser fell because the property owner installed an oil slick on the hill to cause trespassers to fall, the owner could be liable for damages.
Appropriate measures for property owners
It’s recommended that property owners take adequate measures to insulate themselves from the risk of liability if anyone is injured on their property. While trespassers are owed little duty, invitees are owed a much higher duty of care that demands the use of appropriate measures.
If in doubt, property owners should contact their property insurer or consult legal counsel to ask what measures are required of them.
Warning about any dangers on the property can help insulate the owner from liability for any resulting injuries.
For example, “beware of dog” or “slippery when wet” can effectively warn an invitee of the danger.
Carrying adequate liability insurance
Not all risks can be guarded against, so to protect against the unknown, it’s wise for a property owner to carry liability insurance sufficient to cover the risk of its intended invitees.
Exercising reasonable caution in allowing use of land
When individuals are given permission to use land, they become invitees and the landowner owes them duty. Landowners can protect themselves, and help prevent injury or death, by taking care to only allow for the safe and responsible use of their land.
Warning users of dangers
When there are apparent dangers, clearly warning invitees of the danger can help mitigate the property owner’s risk and prevent injuries or death.
Children and “attractive nuisances”
Children are naturally attracted to certain objects and curiosities, and property owners must recognize this, and make efforts to protect the property from unauthorized intrusion and/or use of the nuisance by children.
Children are not legally accountable for their actions as they are not viewed as mature enough to form legal intent, so it is the role of adults to be responsible for them. The following are potentially considered attractive nuisances:
- Junk piles
- Construction sites
How a Charlotte premises liability lawyer can help
If you or your family member has been injured or has died on someone else’s property, working with a premises liability attorney is essential. We will review the facts of your case, carefully apply North Carolina law and case precedent, and identify the best path forward in your case.
Give the Charlotte premises liability lawyers from Johnson & Groninger PLLC a call at (704) 200-2009 or visit our site to schedule a consultation.