Premises Liability vs. Negligence: Everything you Need to Know
Were you injured in a slip and fall, animal attack, or another incident on someone else’s property in Hawaii? If the negligence of a residential or commercial property owner contributed to your injuries, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and related losses. The experienced Hawaii premises liability lawyers at Recovery Law Center can help you pursue the money you need to pay your bills and rebuild your life.
Recovery Law Center is a premier personal injury law firm with offices in Honolulu and Waipahu. Founding attorney Glenn Honda has over 25 years of experience handling complex personal injury claims for accident victims throughout Oahu. Compassion, commitment, and comprehensive legal services are what you’ll get from working with our firm. Find out how we can help in a free consultation. Call or contact us today.
What Is Premises Liability?
A landowner’s responsibility to help visitors avoid accidental injury on their property is called premises liability under Hawaii law. If you suffer a preventable injury due to an unsafe condition on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim against the responsible party.
Premises liability claims can arise from incidents anywhere, including grocery stores, shopping malls, apartment complexes, amusement parks, public parks, parking lots, and private homes. The critical question in determining whether you have a valid claim is whether someone else’s carelessness, or negligence, caused the accident and your injuries.
What Is Negligence?
Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care in a certain situation, and it’s a critical component of most personal injury cases. To win a premises liability case, you must prove that the property owner was negligent, or at fault, for your injuries.
However, it’s important to note that just because you were injured on someone else’s property does not automatically mean the owner was negligent. Property owners have specific legal duties to maintain their properties, and you must prove that an owner failed to uphold these duties to claim compensation in a premises liability case.
Hawaii Premises Liability Laws
If you were injured on someone else’s premises in Hawaii, you must be able to prove the following elements to have a valid claim against the property owner:
- There was an unreasonable risk of harm on their premises – Property owners are typically only liable for injuries if they know or should have known about a condition on their property that posed an unreasonable risk of harm to visitors. If a dangerous condition exists, property owners must take reasonable steps to eliminate it or warn visitors about it. If the hazardous condition does not pose an unreasonable risk, chances are you won’t have a claim.
- The owner knew about the unreasonably unsafe condition(s) – Next, you must establish the property owner had actual or constructive notice of the dangerous condition. A property owner has actual notice when they receive information about the unsafe condition in a legally verifiable way, such as via mail or email. The law typically assumes property owners have constructive notice of a condition when it would be apparent with ordinary care and maintenance of the premises.
- The owner did not take reasonable steps to eliminate the dangerous condition – Property owners are not expected to eliminate all risks from their properties, only to take reasonable steps to eliminate conditions that pose an unreasonable risk of harm. If a property owner regularly maintained their property by cleaning, performing upkeep, and responding to complaints, it may be difficult to prove this element.
- There were no warnings about the unsafe conditions on the property – If a landowner does not take steps to eliminate a dangerous situation on their premises, they can still avoid liability as long as they provide visitors with adequate warnings, such as warning signs or safety barriers. To have a successful claim, you’ll need to prove that the property owner did nothing to alert you about the conditions that caused the injury.
- The unreasonably unsafe condition was not “open and obvious” – If the hazardous condition was “open and obvious,” property owners could avoid liability even if they failed to take steps to eliminate or warn visitors of it. Case law states that property owners can assume that visitors will exercise enough awareness to avoid open and obvious dangers, such as large puddles or pits in the ground.
Types of Premises Liability Accidents
Many different types of incidents can be classified as premises liability accidents, including:
- Slip and falls
- Trip and falls
- Snow and ice accidents
- Obstructed walkway accidents
- Broken stairways
- Defective elevator or escalator accidents
- Missing or broken handrail accidents
- Inadequate security incidents
- Ceiling collapses
- Falling or flying objects
- Defective equipment
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Building code violations
- Electrical shocks and electrocutions
- Leaks and flooding
- Toxic exposure to fumes or chemicals
- Exposure to excessively loud noise
Contact a Premises Liability Attorney in Hawaii
Hawaii premises liability cases can get complicated, so consult with a knowledgeable attorney before settling an insurance claim. Recovery Law Center has helped over 5,000 families secure justice throughout Oahu. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain by scheduling a free consultation. Call or contact us today for a free case review.