A Morgantown property owner, whether private or commercial, has a legal duty to keep their premises reasonably safe for guests and customers. If someone gets hurt on their property due to their failure to meet that duty, the injured person can bring a premises liability suit against the property owner or lessee to recover compensation for their medical expenses and other damages.
At Wagoner Desai, PLLC, we understand the disruption premises liability accidents may have on a person’s life, from the minor to the severe. Victims shouldn’t have to bear the full burden of the property owner’s negligence. With our experience in these cases, we’re equipped and ready to represent premises liability clients and vigorously pursue full and fair compensation for their injuries. Contact our Morgantown premises liability lawyers today to discuss your case. Read on to learn more about these cases and for answers to some frequently asked questions about premises liability.
Examples of Morgantown Premises Liability Cases
Premises liability encompasses a broad range of cases. Thus, when looking for a premises liability attorney, get one with broad experience who will know how to handle your case. A common premises liability case is a trip or slip and fall case.
Other cases include:
- Accidents at retail establishments
- Inadequate security at events like concerts
- Fire safety accidents
- Building code accidents
- Poor lighting
- Falling objects
- Dog bites and other animal attacks
- Ceiling collapse
Proving Premises Liability in Morgantown
In a Morgantown premises liability case, you must prove that the property owner, lessee, or other party responsible for the care and condition of the property was negligent in keeping the property reasonably safe, resulting in serious injuries to you. You may rely upon many different kinds of evidence to prove your case, including witness and expert testimony, surveillance footage, and medical bills. If you are able, be sure to take photos of the accident scene. Sometimes evidence that could be valuable to proving your claim disappears. For example, if a store’s sidewalk was icy, the ice could melt in between the accident and when someone can come back to investigate.
Morgantown Premises Liability Injuries
Premises liability injuries may be minor or catastrophic. It all depends on the unique circumstances of the case. Catastrophic injuries may be more likely at certain sites, such as near construction work where heavy equipment is being moved around and could hit passersby.
Injuries in a Morgantown premises liability case could include:
- Bruises, bumps, cuts, scratches, and scrapes
- Face and eye injuries
- Head, shoulder, and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal injuries
- Simple and compound fractures
- Strains and sprains
- Pulled or torn muscles, and other soft tissue injuries
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Electrical shocks and burns
- Chemical and thermal burns
- Paralysis, amputations, excessive scarring, and disfigurement
In some cases, premises liability accidents could result in death, either at the time of the accident or later—days, weeks, or months later. In such cases, the premises liability accident victim’s estate may bring a lawsuit to recover for losses they’ve experienced as a result.
When You Should Call a Morgantown Premises Liability Attorney
You should never wait to contact a premises liability attorney. The sooner we can speak with you, the more you will most likely remember about the incident and the more quickly we can investigate your case. If you are in the hospital, we can come to you or set up a phone or video call for your initial consultation.
How Much Does a Morgantown Premises Liability Lawyer Cost?
When you go to Wagoner Desai, PLLC, your initial case consultation is free. If, after the consultation, you retain our services you don’t pay us unless and until we get a favorable outcome in your case. Our fee will be a certain, predetermined percentage of whatever settlement or court award we recover on your behalf. With this arrangement, you can focus on your medical recovery, rather than trying to figure out where to find the money to pay for an attorney.
Can I Settle My Morgantown Premises Liability Case on My Own?
While it is entirely up to you, we do not recommend trying to settle a premises liability case on your own. Insurance companies are in business to make a profit, which is reduced by every claim they pay out. Thus, an insurance company will do what it takes to deny or pay out as little as possible to resolve your claim. It may accomplish this by using certain tactics, like using your words to pin blame for the accident on you. Furthermore, many premises liability victims are not aware of the full extent of compensation they deserve. An insurance company may offer a quick, low settlement, insufficient to cover your medical expenses and other impacts.
Recoverable Damages in a Morgantown Premises Liability Case
The amount of compensation you can recover in a Morgantown premises liability case depends on the severity of your injuries and residual impacts. You could recover two types of damages in a premises liability case: Compensatory damages, which are meant to account for the expenses and losses a victim has incurred; and punitive damages, which are a punishment for the defendant’s gross negligence or intentional acts.
Compensatory damages fall into two categories: Economic damages, which have a set monetary value, and non-economic damages, which do not.
Economic damages, also referred to as special damages, in a premises liability case may include:
- Past medical expenses, for those incurred before a settlement or a trial award
- Future medical expenses, for those you expect to incur after a settlement or a trial award. Medical expenses—past and future—include all necessary surgeries, follow-up appointments, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive and other psychological therapies. Medical expenses can also include ambulatory aids and other medical equipment, such as braces, and changes to your home or vehicle you need in light of your injuries. Hand controls for vehicles and ramps, grab bars, wider doors for wheelchairs, and other modifications are some examples of changes you might need if your injuries cause long-term or permanent disabilities.
- Past lost wages, for those hours of work you missed due to the accident
- Future lost wages, for those you expect to lose following a settlement or trial award. If you can work part-time, but cannot make the same hourly wage or salary, you could recover partial future lost wages.
- Replacement or repair of destroyed or damaged personal property.
- Funeral, burial, and/or cremation expenses, in a wrongful death action brought by the family of a premises liability accident victim who died as a result of the accident.
Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, in a premises liability case may include:
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress
- Loss of quality of life
- Loss of companionship or consortium.
- Loss of use of a body part, such as a hand or foot
- Loss of use of a bodily function, such as your eyesight or bladder
- Amputation of a digit or limb
- Scarring or disfigurement
While you can recover punitive damages in a Morgantown premises liability case, you have to prove that the defendant’s actions were grossly negligent or intentional. Furthermore, the standard of proof is higher than it is for compensatory damages. The court does not order punitive damages to make you whole again. Rather, it orders the defendant to pay them as a punishment for especially egregious behavior.
Morgantown Premises Liability Lawyer FAQs
At Wagoner Desai, PLLC, we hear many of the same questions from different premises liability victims. We’ve answered some of those questions here. To find out about your specific case, however, make contact us for your free consultation.
How do I know if I have a Morgantown premises liability case?
If you are not sure if your case is a premises liability case, you should ask your attorney. However, Morgantown premises liability cases may include slips or trips and falls, electrocution from faulty electric wiring, burns, injuries caused by falling materials, and dog or other animal bite cases.
What if the negligent person is a friend or relative?
In most cases, while you may need to sue a friend or relative, your compensation will come from their insurance provider. It may feel uncomfortable to bring a claim against a friend or relative, but you deserve compensation, and they carry insurance to account for such contingencies.
What if more than one person is responsible for my injuries?
During our investigation, we will find out who all may have caused your accident and bring your claim against all potentially responsible parties. For example, if two businesses each own a share of the establishment where you suffered injuries, both of those businesses could share in the responsibility for your damages.
What are examples of dangerous conditions?
Dangerous conditions may include poorly maintained stairs and handrails, slippery sidewalks, cracked sidewalks, slippery floors, swimming pools with poor fencing, or poor lighting in commercial parking lots.
What are intentional torts, and are they considered premises liability?
An intentional tort is when someone purposefully injuries you. In some cases, you could have a combination of a personal injury intentional tort case and a premises liability case. For example, if you suffered injuries when someone assaulted you in a mall parking lot, and the parking lacked sufficient lighting, you could sue the individual who assaulted you for an intentional tort, and the mall owner or lessee for failing to maintain sufficient lighting that could have helped protect you.
How long do I have to file a Morgantown premises liability case?
Generally speaking, you have two years to file a Morgantown premises liability lawsuit. This deadline is dictated by the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in West Virginia. However, you shouldn’t wait long to start your claim. The sooner you can get started on your case, the better the evidence you can collect, and the sooner you can recover the compensation you need. There also might be exceptions to the time to file if you need to sue a governmental body, as well as additional requirements that can prolong the process of filing your lawsuit.
Can I settle my Morgantown premises liability case out of court?
Yes. However, if the insurance company refuses to pay you the compensation you deserve, you may need to take them through the court system. A low settlement offer might be woefully inadequate to cover your expenses, never mind the compensation you might be entitled to for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages.
What are the legal requirements for establishing a Morgantown premises liability claim?
To recover compensation for a Morgantown premises liability claim, you must have evidence to show that the property had a serious defect, that the defect caused your injuries, that the property owner knew or should have known about the defect, and they should have fixed the defect or warned you about it. For example, the store owner or lessee should know about a loose handrail on a store staircase and fix it or warn store patrons of it. If the handrail defect was there for a long time, but the property owner did not post signs or fix it, they could bear responsibility for damages if the defect injured you.
What if the insurance company makes me a settlement offer?
In many cases, insurance companies call premises liability victims soon after an accident with a settlement offer. They hope that you will accept, but, generally, you should not accept their first offer. The first offer is usually a fraction of the compensation you might deserve.
Once you accept a settlement, you cannot go after the insurance company again, even if you realize that the money isn’t enough to cover all of your medical or other expenses. If an insurance company offers you a settlement, convey the details of the offer to your attorney so that they can advise you and you can make an informed decision about whether or not to accept.
How much does a Morgantown premises liability attorney cost? How much if I have to sue?
With Wagoner Desai, PLLC, our initial case evaluation is free, and you do not pay for our services unless we obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Once we recover a settlement or court award of damages on your behalf, we take a previously agreed to percentage as our legal fee. We also may deduct certain fees, such as court filing fees, deposition fees, expert witness fees, and other such fees that were necessary to keep your case going. We will go over the fee percentage and types of expenses that you will be responsible for during your initial case evaluation, and specify them in our retainer agreement.
If you suffered injuries in an accident on someone’s property in Morgantown, contact Wagoner Desai, PLLC, for a free consultation to determine what kind of damages you may be eligible for in your case.
Injured on Someone’s Property? Call Our Morgantown Premises Liability Attorneys Today
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one in a Morgantown premises liability case, contact Wagoner Desai, PLLC at (304) 470-2056 for a free case evaluation. We’ll listen to your story, talk to you about your injuries and how they’ve affected your life, and let you know if we can help you seek compensation to get your life back on track.
Wagoner Desai, PLLC
265 High Street, 3rd Floor
Citizens Bank Building
Morgantown, WV 26505
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