The role of insurance is an important consideration in bringing a claim against a property owner. Homeowners and businesses alike almost always purchase liability insurance to cover them for damages done by their own negligence. When an injury occurs at a property, the insurance company often investigates the claims early on and speaks to witnesses.
The insurance company may also attempt to obtain statements from the injured person. Because the insurance company represents the property owner's interests, its investigations are often geared towards minimizing any defects in the property and blaming the injured person for the accident. It is important, therefore, to obtain photographs of the accident scene as soon as possible and to have the accident investigated by someone with the injured person's interests in mind. This is best done through the retention early on of a reputable, experienced premise liability attorney and law firm.
The insurance company doesn't just investigate accidents on behalf of the property owner; it hires lawyers for the property owner, pays all costs for defending any lawsuits against the property owner, and pays any settlements or judgments that may result from such a lawsuit. From the perspective of an injured person who has an accident at a private home, it may be comforting to know that the claim or lawsuit will probably not involve any significant costs on behalf of the property owner. From the property owner's perspective, there is no need to take a claim or lawsuit personally or to attempt to cover up the defect or their negligence: the whole point of buying homeowner's insurance is so, when an accident happens, the injured person can be fairly compensated by the insurance company of warranted by the facts.
Despite the common sense requirement that properly owners use reasonable care to remedy dangerous condition on their property, accidents and injuries due to defects in design, construction, or improper maintenance and repair of property are not uncommon. The types of injuries from property-related accidents are surprisingly diverse, ranging from falls to explosions to traffic accidents. Some examples of property related defects that can lead to injuries include:
- slip and fall on snow and/or ice
- slip and fall in aisles of supermarkets or other retail establishments
- fires and explosions to improper maintenance or repair of property
- collapse of railings or decks to due improper construction, maintenance or repair.
- traffic accidents from improperly designed and maintained parking lots and privately owned roads
- falls on improperly guarded steps or stairways
- injuries from improperly stored or stacked merchandise
These laws applicable to these categories of property defects will be discussed separately in future postings. The bottom line, though, is that a person who suffers an injury at a residential or commercial property has remedies available, and the best results are obtained by retaining, early on, a competent premises liability attorney to investigate the accident and seek whatever remedies are called for by the law and the facts.
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