When someone gets injured, the party at-fault is not always who you expect it to be. You may be at-fault in ways you did not anticipate. Here are some unexpected personal injury liabilities that you should be aware of.
Unexpected Personal Injury Liabilities | Trespasser Injured on Your Property
Trespassing cases can be interesting because the fact that someone’s trespassing doesn’t mean the property owner is off the hook – especially in cases where a hidden danger exists on the property. For instance, there may be an uncovered hole on a person’s property – and not only is it 10 feet deep, it’s not readily visible. If a person walking through the property falls into it, the landowner may be responsible for that person’s injuries because of that hidden danger.
I have friends who own property out in the country and, when they ask me for advice about these kinds of things. I say, “You just have to make sure your property is reasonably maintained. In other words, if you see something that’s out of the ordinary – like a hole – you must try to do something about it. Just because someone’s trespassing on your property, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you, as the property owner, are totally off the hook.” Of course, there can be variations to that scenario. Maybe that injured trespasser was a repeat trespasser, so we get into the facts and circumstances of each case. Every case is different, but don’t presume that, just because the injured person was trespassing, the landowner is not responsible.
Unexpected Personal Injury Liabilities | Recovering Damages If You Are Partially at Fault
Oftentimes, when someone is injured in an accident – whether it may be a motor vehicle accident or a trip and fall accident – they think, “Okay, I’m injured, but maybe I was partly to blame for causing the accident. Can I still bring a lawsuit?” In New York, the answer is, “Yes, you still can.” If you are at fault for any part of the accident, your degree of fault will be considered later in the lawsuit, and perhaps the damages you are ultimately awarded – if you’re awarded any – will be reduced by the percentage of fault you bear for causing the accident.
Partial fault is not a bar to a lawsuit, and you really should consider consulting with an attorney to learn whether you can still make a legitimate claim. Don’t be discouraged just because something you did may have caused or contributed to the accident. If you do, you may give up your right to bring a legitimate claim just because you think – erroneously – that something you did may have contributed to it. It’s worth consulting with an attorney to learn whether it’s a claim you can still bring.
Unexpected Personal Injury Liabilities | School Liability if a Student is Injured
Aside from issues related to education or whether bullying has been occurring at the school, I often get calls from parents about disciplinary proceedings, or when their children have been injured while they’re at school. If your child comes home from school with an injury, it’s important to know what happened and exactly how the child was injured. If it occurred during a regular school activity, it is likely to have been the result of certain risks to which all children are subject. For example, it’s significantly different if a child is hit by a ball during gym class than if a teacher brought a dangerous animal to the school and your child was injured because the animal wasn’t properly contained. It’s very important to know the mechanism of injury and determine whether the school did or failed to do something other than what a reasonable person would have done in the situation. The school could be liable in those instances.
Schools aren’t responsible for ensuring the absolute safety of children; however, certain things will happen from time to time, causing accidents for which the school might be liable. The most important thing to remember is that, if you are likely to be making a claim against the school, certain time constraints must be met. You need to put the school on notice properly – usually within 90 days of the occurrence. The sooner you get in and talk to an attorney, the better. That way, they can at least preserve or protect your right to pursue a potential claim against the school, once you’ve determined whether it is proper to do so.
If you have experienced any of these unexpected personal injury liabilities and need legal representation, call our Hamburg personal injury attorneys for a free consultation.