Injuries can happen anywhere. Premises liability deals with those instances when individuals are injured on someone else’s property. If you are injured on another’s property, injuries may give rise to liability, for example, if the owner or occupier of the property did not keep the sidewalk or stairs in good repair, negligently failed to clear ice or snow properly, or left a puddle of liquid on the store floor.
Examples of common premises liability cases involve:
- Slip and falls
- Dog bites
- Broken stairs or sidewalks
- Falling objects
- Fires or explosions
- Other dangerous conditions
If you are suffering from injuries caused by another person’s negligence or carelessness, make sure you hire a lawyer who understands the complex and often arcane world of this area of the law. Premises liability is an area of the law that is quite confusing and specialized. Confronting the legal system alone can cost money and increase pain and suffering. Simply making the mistake of giving a statement to an insurance company or failing to understand how long you have to file a lawsuit can prevent you from recovering anything.
Helpful tips if you are injured
If you are injured on another’s property or place of business, there are some important tips to keep in mind that will help expedite your case and ensure your ultimate recovery:
- Report the incident immediately to the owner of the property or business.
- Investigate the scene of the accident to determine the circumstances that caused the injuries and the potential parties who may have failed to properly exercise their duty of care.
- Take photographs of the area and preserve any evidence from the scene.
- Make a record of the names of workers, employees, or other individuals who may have witnessed the accident.
- In the case of slip and fall accidents, make special note of the conditions on the ground or floor, including water, ice, or snow accumulation, objects obstructing the walkway, or worn out or torn carpet, mats, or flooring.
- Do not make statements to property owners, insurance companies, or other parties. Your statements may hurt your case.
- Seek appropriate medical treatment for any injuries as soon as possible. It is important to have a medical record of injuries immediately following the incident, before the condition worsens.
- Consult with an attorney at the earliest possible convenience. In personal injury cases, time is critical. Nebraska law has a four-year statute of limitations in most personal injury cases. If the limitations period expires, your right to recovery may be permanently barred.
- Acknowledge and accept that your situation is essentially “you” versus the insurance company. “They” (the insurance company) are not on your side – “We” (the law office) are here to help you. With the exception of a few pleasant insurance representatives, “they” want you to settle cheap, give up on your claim, or to prove you’re a fraud. “They” will not inform you of your legal rights (they are not required to), and will sometimes give you misinformation. Don’t lose hope – “we” will do our best to help you through this tough time.
- Keep in mind that from the day you are injured the insurance company is watching, researching, reading, or in some way observing you. They do this through surveillance (taking photographs or filming you when you are not aware), reviewing your medical records, and sometimes by talking with you or someone you know over the telephone. Protect yourself by restricting your contact with the insurance company, and its representatives; and avoid activities that your doctor has warned you not to do.
- Stay in touch with our law office. Keep us informed of significant events. We do not recommend that you call every day, but you should contact us after each medical appointment with your primary doctor.
- Don’t assume that all doctors are equal, or that it really doesn’t make any difference which one you see. One of our major objectives is to help you find the best medical care available. We would like to review the names of medical specialists, in your area, with you before you make a decision. Remember that we have done many, many injury cases like yours, and we know there are some medical specialists you really should not see.
- Don’t make an appointment to see a specialist yourself. The appointment should be made by your family physician. This is called a “medical referral” and is usually accomplished by a telephone call, or letter from your doctor to the medical specialist. If you try and do this on your own, it will be viewed as “doctor shopping”, and it will hurt your case.
- Follow the advice of your medical doctor. The doctor’s advice will always appear in his or her medical records. When you do not follow the advice of your doctor, the insurance company assumes that you are healed, or are no longer in pain, or you would follow your doctor’s advice. This too hurts your case.
- Get a note from your doctor if you are not able to return to work. Make sure the note is faxed or emailed to your employer – so that you don’t lose your job. The note is also necessary to convince the insurance company that you really could not return to work because of your injury. This “no work” note should have a starting date and an ending date. Typically, your doctor will use your next medical appointment as the ending date. After the doctor sees you on that ending date, if you are still judged to be unfit to return to work, you will get another “no work” note from your doctor, so on and so forth.
- Follow any “restrictions” given to you by your doctor. Your restriction may be that you can only lift a certain amount, or work a certain number of hours, or not move in certain ways (bending or twisting as examples). You need to pay careful attention to follow these restrictions for two reasons: (1) for the sake of your health – if you push yourself beyond these restrictions the chances are good that you will hurt yourself worse; (2) if you are observed not following these restrictions, the insurance company assumes that you are a fraud who has lied to their doctor, and can do more than what they are telling their doctor. Insurance companies will spend thousands of dollars trying to catch you doing something you shouldn’t in order to prove that you are a fraud. Legally they can photograph you anywhere outside your home. They hire trained investigators to follow you, and film you, hoping to find evidence of fraud. If they accomplish this, your case becomes virtually worthless.
- Take the medication which the doctor prescribes. If, for example, a doctor prescribes pain medication, and you do not use it, the insurance company assumes that you are not in pain. While you may have a personal reason for not taking the prescription (for example it makes you nauseous), the insurance company will not view it this way unless you explain this to your doctor and ask him/her to put this explanation into your medical records. Also, some people who are in pain choose to take only pain killers and not other medications – like muscle relaxants. In the case of muscle relaxants, these medications help you heal, and also help with the pain. If you have a problem taking the medications which have been prescribed to you, please review this with our law office for further advice.
- Don’t discontinue or put off medical help just because an insurance company won’t pay for it. There are typically other alternatives. If you have private health insurance, we usually ask that you move ahead with medical treatment by using your health insurance company. When your case settles, your health insurance carrier can be repaid. By passing up medical treatment when it is needed, your injuries can worsen, and you can lose more time from work. Your best strategy is to receive medical treatment as soon as possible, and not to wait.
What to Expect from Steffens Law Office
Should you choose to hire the Steffens Law Office injury attorneys to represent you in your premises liability case, you can expect our office to do the following:
- Thoroughly investigate the incident, and help you memorialize important information with photos and interviews.
- Advise you regarding medical treatment.
- Protect you from unscrupulous insurance companies who want to diminish the value of your case.
- Monitor your medical records for accuracy and treatment.
- Advise you regarding what needs to be done, and when, in order to reach maximum medical improvement, and to receive fair compensation for your damages.
- Contact you on a frequent and regular basis for personal status reports.
- When the time is right, prepare a detailed “Demand Package” with an eye toward settling your case, if possible.
- If the insurance company is unwilling to pay you a fair value to settle, then file a lawsuit to pursue your claim.
For those who are seriously injured as a result of another’s negligence or misconduct, contact Steffens Law Office today to discuss what can be done to compensate you for your injuries. Visit the Results page to learn how Steffens Law Office has helped other injured victims successfully recover for their injuries.