When you spend the day at the St. Louis Zoo or shopping for groceries at a supermarket downtown on your way home from Busch Stadium, you expect that those businesses to keep you and other patrons safe.
You may not even think about things like getting hurt or having an accident because you trust that businesses do what’s necessary to keep visitors safe. In fact, it’s an expectation under Missouri law that property owners and businesses make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for visitors and patrons.
When property owners and businesses fail to uphold this expectation, and a visitor gets injured, this brings up premises liability. If you get hurt as a visitor to a property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim. This type of law can prove confusing and overwhelming.
Attorneys at the Bruning Law Firm in St. Louis can help you navigate your situation and claim. Our lawyers have decades of experience and dedication to protecting clients’ rights to compensation. All cases involve unique facts, and we understand that. We’ve successfully recovered millions of dollars for our clients, always pursuing maximum compensation on behalf of our clients.
To better understand St. Louis premises liability law, potential injuries, and other aspects of the claims process, we provide a breakdown and overview below. Remember that all cases involve specific facts that will dictate their specific course of action. Make sure to contact our St. Louis premises liability lawyers at the Bruning Law Firm for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case and your eligibility to pursue compensation.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability involves a person filing a lawsuit to hold a property owner or other entity responsible for damages that stem from an injury that the person filing the lawsuit sustains on the property. Basically, premises liability cases involve someone who got hurt on someone else’s property because of that individual’s negligence or failure to maintain a safe environment.
Not everyone who gets hurt on someone else’s property may seek damages, so if you’ve sustained an injury and think the property owner may bear liability, you should contact an experienced St. Louis premises liability lawyer to discuss your situation.
Premises Liability Visitor Status
The law divides visitors to any property into three different categories. When determining a visitor’s status, you must consider why the person has entered the property, whether they received an invite (whether explicit or implied), and what kind of interaction that person has with the property owner or entity.
A licensee receives a direct or implied invitation to enter a property without any kind of mutually beneficial business relationship. For example, if you receive an invitation to a friend’s house for dinner to celebrate a birthday, you qualify as a licensee, since you have no commercial interest in this dinner party situation.
An invitee to a property also enters with the owner’s permission, but the invitee receives an economic benefit. For example, if you visit an apple orchard in St. Louis to purchase fruit that you or the farm picked, you qualify as an invitee because of the economic relationship you have with the property. A person visiting grounds open to the public also constitutes an invitee.
A trespasser knowingly enters a property without permission. Basically, trespassers know that they haven’t received an invitation to the property but enter it anyway. Trespassers violate the legal duty to respect another person’s right to property.
Types of Injuries
Attorneys at the Bruning Law Firm have the tools and know-how to help initiate many types of injury claims that involve premises liability.
Some common injuries that may result in premises liability claims include:
- Animal and dog bites
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dangerous property
- Negligent or inadequate security
- Swimming pool injury
- Inadequate maintenance
- Children on property
- Retail store liability
- Restaurant liability
Slip and Fall Accidents
When a person slips or trips on someone else’s property and sustains an injury, this constitutes a slip and fall injury. As with any injury, knowing if you have legal grounds for a claim can prove confusing. To determine whether you qualify to pursue compensation for your injuries, contact a St. Louis premises liability lawyer at the Bruning Law Firm for advice.
Even though this type of injury often involves elderly individuals, everyone faces a risk for slips and falls. These accidents can happen inside businesses or outside on the property, as well due to a variety of unsafe property conditions and hazards.
If you see a brightly colored yellow or orange sign indicating a wet floor, this reflects a business that’s taking reasonable steps to prevent harm to patrons. However, if you slip and fall on a wet floor or spill that has no sign or warning in a department store or grocery store, this may qualify you to pursue a slip and fall claim.
In addition, uneven pavement, flooring changes, or slipping outside due to a walkway slick from rain or ice reflect other types of situations that may result in a slip or trip and injury.
Animal and Dog Bites
According to Missouri law, a dog owner faces strict liability if the dog bites another person who isn’t trespassing and did not provoke the dog. For example, if you find yourself relaxing at Compton Hill Reservoir Park, and a dog runs up and bites you, you may qualify to pursue compensation to cover the cost of your injuries. By the same token, if you visit the St. Louis Zoo, you expect the zoo and staff members to take precautions to ensure that none of the animals cause you harm.
Even with strict liability for dog bites and the fact that Missouri law does not consider the dog’s previous temperament, winning these types of claims can still prove challenging to navigate without having an experienced lawyer, like those at the Bruning Law Firm, on your side.
Swimming Pool Injury
Since a private swimming pool in the backyard of someone’s home may entice a child (who also may not understand rules that prohibit trespassing), Missouri law requires that all pools have a fence or barrier surrounding them. The fence must also reach at least four feet high to prevent children (and all other trespassers) from using the pool.
Continuing with Missouri law’s special treatment of children, property owners must also take reasonable safety precautions to protect children from attractive nuisances. Swimming pools, tree houses, trampolines, swing sets, and outdoor playsets all constitute attractive nuisances. Even though a child may enter a property uninvited, the home or property owner still owes the child a duty of care and may bear liability for damages that stem from the child’s injury.
When you visit a restaurant to enjoy a meal, the restaurant also needs to take reasonable precautions to keep you and other patrons safe. Restaurants involve moving around a lot of food and beverage products, so restaurants owe patrons a duty to keep floors clean from spilled beverages or dropped food, which visitors might slip on. In addition, decor and lighting in restaurants might cause patrons injury should that decoration or lighting fixture fall as a result of improper installation or faulty equipment.
Negligence and Inadequate Maintenance
Property owners must regularly check their properties and the surrounding area for maintenance issues or potential areas where visitors may get hurt. One common cause of premises liability accidents includes improper lighting in and around the property and parking lot. Broken or missing lights may cause different injuries.
For example, inadequately lit exit ways or stairways can result in a patron not seeing a handrail or step and falling on the stairs or landing. In a parking lot, a lack of lighting can obscure wet or slippery areas, causing an outside slip and fall. Finally, failing to indicate and provide proper lighting for exit ways can have harmful or deadly consequences in the event of an emergency evacuation during which visitors cannot find their way to the exit.
Financial Burden of St. Louis Premises Liability Injuries
Whenever a person or child gets hurt, that injury has a financial impact. The extent of the cost and financial burden depends on the specific situation, injury, treatment, and outcomes.
Injured individuals and their families may bear responsibility for costs like:
- Medical bills: Health insurance may not cover your entire medical costs should you suffer an injury. What’s more, not everyone has insurance or can pay for costly co-payments even if insured. The medical treatment doesn’t always end with your initial hospital stay after an injury. You may require additional doctors’ visits and follow-up surgeries or procedures depending on your injury.
- Rehabilitation costs: Some injuries may need weeks or months of rehabilitation, either at home with a nurse or therapist or in an outpatient or residential rehabilitation center. The cost of rehabilitation residence further burdens already stressed individuals and their families.
- Lost wages: Time spent in the hospital and rehabilitating at home or in a facility means time away from work. If you cannot return to work for weeks or months, you may miss out on wages needed to financially support you and your family. Even more frustrating, your injury may permanently disable you, and you may never return to your same job or career.
- Pain and suffering: The mental and emotional aspects of injuries create anguish and difficulty for injured individuals and their families. Struggling to engage in regular activities or to spend time working and exercising takes a toll. In addition, injured individuals who previously felt healthy may feel understandably frustrated when they must now rely on medical or family caregivers to care for themselves or complete certain tasks.
- Specialized medical equipment: Following an injury like a slip and fall, you may need medical equipment to make your house accessible. This means you may need tools and equipment to help you move around the house safely and complete basic care tasks, like eating and bathing. Furthermore, you may need to have other machines, monitors, or medical beds to help with your temporary rehabilitation or long-term care and lifestyle changes.
- Specialized transportation costs: If you cannot drive due to your injury, you still need transportation to and from therapy sessions and doctors’ visits. Your vehicle may not accommodate you due to your injury, so you may need medical transportation that can carry your wheelchair or that has needed space for comfort.
- Wrongful death: If your loved one died as a result of a business or property owner’s negligence in maintaining a safe premise, your family likely faces a huge financial burden. The loss of a family member is hard enough, but then you also must deal with medical bills, burial costs, and the pain of your loved one’s absence. Wrongful death constitutes a large and saddening financial burden associated with premises liability claims.
Window to Make a St. Louis Premises Liability Claim
Different statutes of limitations apply when it comes to the window of time that you have to file a claim. Under Missouri law, someone has five years to make a premises liability claim for damages from injuries. As legal investigations and filings take time, don’t wait to begin the process. The St. Louis premises liability lawyers at the Bruning Law Firm can review your situation to determine if you qualify to file a claim. Even if your situation doesn’t necessarily reflect the above-mentioned scenarios, you still may qualify to pursue compensation.
The Bruning Law Firm Can Help With Your St. Louis Premises Liability Claim
If you or a family sustained injuries on someone’s property or while at a store or business, the property owner may bear liability for your injury costs and other financial burdens. If a loved one dies because of unsafe property conditions or injuries sustained on someone else’s property, you may have a case for wrongful death. Every case is different, of course.
The Bruning Law Firm’s experienced St. Louis premises liability lawyers can help sort through your situation and advise on the next steps should you have grounds for a claim. Don’t wait to hear from the other party’s lawyers first. Contact us at the Bruning Law Firm by calling (314) 735-8100 for assistance. You can also use our website chat feature 24 hours a day, or submit an electronic request for a free consultation. We serve injured clients in Illinois’s Metro East and the Missouri suburbs as well as St. Louis.
"When other law firms failed me. Bruning Law Firm came through for me. They did a great job and were able to get me more compensation than I expected. Couldn't be more pleased. Truly glad these folks were there for me. Took care of everything. Truly pleased. Tthank you Ryan and Alice." - Joseph F.
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