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Is a property owner at fault for your fall?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2024 | Personal Injury |

In North Carolina, property owners have a legal obligation to ensure their premises are safe for visitors. If you’ve experienced a fall, it is helpful to understand some guidelines to help you figure out if the property owner may be responsible.

Understanding property owner responsibilities

The level of care a property owner must provide depends on why the visitor is on the property. For invitees (people invited onto the property for business purposes like customers in a store), the owner must provide a high level of care. This includes regularly inspecting the property and fixing any dangerous conditions or warning visitors about them. 

For licensees (guests such as social visitors), the owner must fix or warn about known dangers but does not need to inspect the property regularly. 

For trespassers, the owner has no duty to protect them from harm, except to avoid willful or wanton injury.

Identifying hazardous conditions

To establish that a property owner might be at fault, you must identify a hazardous condition that caused the fall. This could be a wet floor without a warning sign, uneven flooring, poorly lit stairs, or hidden obstacles. Documenting the hazard with photos or videos can be crucial in showing that the dangerous condition existed.

Proving the owner knew or should have known

Another key aspect is proving that the property owner knew or should have known about the dangerous condition. If a hazard was present long enough that the owner could have discovered and fixed it with regular inspections, they might be considered negligent for not addressing it. Alternatively, if there is evidence that the property owner or employees were aware of the danger but did nothing about it, this also suggests fault.

Was the danger obvious?

Consider whether the dangerous condition was something an average person could reasonably expect to notice and avoid. If the hazard should have been obvious to you, this might reduce the property owner’s liability. However, the owner might still be partly at fault if they did nothing to correct an obvious hazard.

Determining if a North Carolina property owner is at fault for your fall involves understanding many different factors. Understanding these elements can help clarify responsibility in these often complex situations, and better ensure that you can get the compensation you need to heal.


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