Property owners in West Virginia have a legal duty to keep their properties safe for people who have a lawful right to be on the premises. Premises liability law is the area of law that covers injuries sustained while on someone else’s property. Under premises liability law, there are different standards of care that property owners are obliged to take in order to ensure the safety of people who enter their properties; if they fall outside these standards, then the injured party has a right to hold them accountable and to seek compensation for their injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the unsafe conditions on someone else’s property, you need to speak with our Morgantown premises liability attorney right away to discuss your legal options.
In West Virginia, property owners or the occupiers of property must maintain the property in a safe manner. They must inspect the property regularly in order to identify any potential dangers to others, and then they must make timely repairs to correct those dangerous conditions. If the repairs cannot be made in a timely fashion, they have a minimal duty to warn others of the potential of dangers and restrict access to the dangerous zone of the property if not the entire property itself. Property liability law also applies to workplaces; if an employer is also the property owner, then the employer must make workplaces reasonably safe for those who work there.
As long as the person who enters the property has been invited to be there or the property is open to the general public, premises liability laws apply in full. For example, stores are open to the general public; if you enter the supermarket to make a purchase and end up slipping on the floor due to a spill, you may have a liability claim against the property owner. However, if you have no right to be on a property and trespass on the property, then you are afforded a lower level of protection than lawful visitors.
Keep in mind that although the law requires that property owners maintain their properties safely, it also requires that people act within reason too. If an injured party acts carelessly or in a way that results in their own harm, property owners may be off the hook. Under the doctrine known as “open and obvious hazards,” if a reasonable person could recognize an apparent danger, but fails to proceed anyway, they do so at their own risk. The property owner is not liable for any injuries that result when the danger is apparent to most people. So, for instance, if the aforementioned floor in the supermarket were completely soaked in water and there was a sign up indicating “wet floor,” the property owner may not be held liable if someone runs through the mess in high heels.
Premises liability law can be challenging from the viewpoint of the claimant. For this reason, it is important to contact Shenderovich, Shenderovich, and Fishman right away following your injury to discuss your legal options. Schedule a consultation with our premises liability attorney now.