Hawaii Premises Liability Attorneys
Assisting Victims of Negligent Property Conditions in Honolulu & Beyond
Injuries that occur on someone else’s property may result in a Hawaii premises liability claim. While typically this type of claim occurs with a slip and fall accident on a commercial or residential property, it is not limited to just that type of accident. Any accident that occurs on someone’s property and leads to serious injuries may entitle you to receive compensation.
If you were injured due to negligent or unsafe conditions on someone else’s property, Davis Levin Livingston can help you understand your rights and legal options.
Davis Levin Livingston focuses on results. Call (808) 740-0633 for a free consultation today.
What Is Covered under Hawaii Premises Liability Law?
It is not entirely uncommon for someone to be injured while they are on someone else’s property, whether it be a residential home or a place of business, such as a hotel, restaurant, or grocery store. The basis of a premises liability claim is that the owner of the property had a duty to ensure that no one could be injured because of defects or dangerous conditions.
It is expected that owners of any type of property keep it reasonably safe so as to avoid the potential for an accident to occur. If there is a failure to do so, it may result in a premises liability claim.
Hidden Property Hazards
While most people associate premises liability with slip and fall accidents, several other personal injuries can occur as a result of negligence on the part of a tenant or a property owner. Everyone has a right to expect they are safe when visiting any location: In Hawaii, due in large part to a robust tourism industry, accidents involving premises liability tend to be even more common than they are in other areas.
When a property is poorly maintained, there is increased potential for injury from hidden hazards such as:
- Missing or broken handrails – Property owners are responsible to ensure that handrails are safe. This includes making sure handrails are available, and that they are properly installed and secured.
- Broken or damaged stairs – Few things are more frightening than walking down an unsafe staircase. Injuries like sprained ankles, broken legs, and paralyzing spinal cord injuries may be the result of poorly maintained stairs.
- Poor or inadequate lighting – Parking garages, stairways, and buildings that are open in the evening all require proper lighting to keep visitors safe. Failure to have adequate lighting can result in falls or in some cases, visitors being criminally assaulted or robbed.
- Merchandise problems – Store owners have a responsibility to ensure when shelves are stocked that items cannot topple off the shelves. Falling merchandise can cause serious head injuries and spilled liquids can result in falls.
Of course, property owners and managers may not always be immediately aware of hazards on their property, especially when the property is expansive. However, even seemingly minor safety problems – such as a broken step – must be brought to the attention of visitors, and owners are responsible for taking action to remove these hazards.
Hawaii law states that managers and owners must ensure their premises are free of dangerous conditions, as long as it is reasonable for them to have found these conditions. They must also implement adequate security measures to protect visitors from criminal assaults and other preventable acts.
Case Example: Window Fall Lawsuit Against Maui Condo
Hawaii attracts visitors from all across the world. These tourists are entitled to the same safety protections as any resident of the Hawaiian Islands – but unfortunately for one 12-year-old girl, the property owners and managers of a Kauhale Makai condo failed to protect her from suffering serious injuries and becoming paralyzed after falling through a window that had no safety devices install to prevent falls. Attorneys at our firm, Mark Davis and Mali Fenton, represented the girl and her family in this case.
Proving Liability in a Premises Liability Claim
To prove liability in a premises liability claim, you must be able to show that your injuries were a direct result of negligence. This negligence may involve the actions or inactions of a property owner.
It must also be proven that the owner should have reasonably known the conditions that existed for an injury to occur yet failed to act. An experienced Hawaii premises liability lawyer can help make this determination.
Hawaii Premises Liability Claim on Government Property
It is not unusual for a slip and fall or trip and fall accident to occur on a piece of property—such as a sidewalk or roadway—that is under the ownership and control of a government entity. This type of accident would require an individual to file a premises liability claim based on the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).
This act waives the sovereign immunity of the federal government when it comes to being sued for certain situations where an injury takes place. The legal process of this type of premises claim is different than with a commercial or residential property, so it is important that your attorney understands how to handle a claim against a government entity.
What to Do Immediately Following a Slip & Fall Accident
In most slip and fall cases, the primary problem is failing to take the appropriate steps following the incident. Failing to acquire the necessary information can reduce the compensation the injured will receive. After a slip and fall accident, you should take care to do the following:
Find a Witness, Take Pictures, and Scan the Area
To help ensure you receive all compensation rightfully due, it is important to do your due diligence.
Scan the scene for any witnesses. If there are any witnesses in sight, ask that they stand by until the authorities arrive or you can fill out an incident report. Make sure they actually saw the accident and that their view was not obstructed. If they cannot wait, ask for their cards or information to follow up with them at a later time. Do not wait too long to contact the witnesses, because their memory of the incident is important.
You should also scan the area. Pay special attention to the conditions surrounding the area you fell in. Look for what may have caused you to fall. For example, was the flooring raised, wet, or blocked? Were there any signs indicating danger?
Make an Official Report
Make an official report to document the incident. You must report the incident to the store staff immediately so they will have a record of the event. If your witnesses are still around, and willing, have them fill out the witness section of the report. Be clear and concise. Indicate what you feel was the cause of the injury and that you will be seeking medical attention.
Get Medical Attention and Contact a Lawyer
You are not obligated to take ice or anything else the store staff may give you to help your injury. But do inform them that you will consult with your doctor about what the appropriate course of action to take is. However, note that it is common knowledge and common sense that ice reduces swelling and helps injuries when applied immediately. Consider this general knowledge before turning down this type of assistance.
It is also wise to ask the manager what the store’s policy is for handling these types of situations. Make sure you have the store’s contact information and preferably the manager’s card or direct information. Go see your doctor to see the extent of your injuries and seek treatment from them.
With this understanding, contact a lawyer experienced in handling personal injuries. The lawyer will follow up with the appropriate parties, help you avoid taking settlements you should not take, help you avoid saying things that will hinder your case, and ensure you receive your just compensation.
Premises Liability for Crimes Committed
In certain cases, civil and criminal issues collide. Premises liability is one such case.
Premises liability seeks to hold property owners responsible for injuries that occur on their premises. It is more than slip and falls. It can include any time an injury is sustained on another’s property if the property owner was negligent.
When crimes occur in public places, there will be a criminal case against the perpetrator, but there can also be civil suits against the property owner in tort.
Foreseeability is the test in premises liability cases. The issue in premises liability cases where crime has occurred is whether the property owner could foresee criminal conduct could reasonably occur on its premises.
If there has been a prior crime on the property, it is likely a court would agree that the owner could foresee crime occurring again. If the owner did not take reasonable steps to protect against the reoccurrence, he or she will likely be liable for any resulting consequences of the crime to any third parties.
However, the prior crime had to be substantially similar enough to the crime that occurred in the current premises liability case in order to put the owner on notice. The court will also consider the frequency of calls to security services or law enforcement. If the establishment had to frequently make calls to security or the police, perhaps the business needed security on-site or additional security on-site.
An injured plaintiff in a premises liability case can also establish evidence to show insufficient lighting which could make it easier to commit a crime or the need for security cameras to surveillance the area. Some states also have laws that certain establishments, such as convenience stores, have a drop safe or cash management device, notice that the cash register only contains $50, unobstructed window signage, no window tinting, and a silent alarm.
Contacting a Premises Liability Lawyer
No matter where you may have been injured, proving a premises liability claim is not easy. This is why you should consider contacting a slip and fall lawyer in Honolulu. They have experience with these types of cases and can help determine whether someone’s negligence was the direct cause of your injuries.
After a serious accident, you should be able to spend your time focusing on your recovery; not dealing with insurance adjusters, never-ending paperwork, and complicated legalese. The attorneys at Davis Levin Livingston can fight for your rights while you focus on healing.
Davis Levin Livingston serves accident victims on Oahu, Maui, the Big Island, Kauai, and beyond. Contact us today for a free case evaluation at (808) 740-0633.
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