In the realm of personal injury law, premises liability claims are both complex and highly significant. These claims arise when an individual is injured on another person’s property due to the property owner’s negligence or failure to maintain a safe environment. Understanding the elements of premises liability in Missouri is crucial for you if you have been affected by a property owner’s negligence. In this blog, we delve into the nuances of premises liability in Missouri, aiming to provide a deeper understanding of the elements that you would need to prove to successfully bring a claim for damages against a property owner.
Supreme Court Establishes Elements
The Missouri Supreme Court established that the elements of a slip and fall claim are that the landowner “(a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such invitees, and (b) should expect that they would not discover or realize the danger, or will fail to protect themselves against it, and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger.”
Duty of Care
The first element in any premises liability case is the duty of care owed by the property owner to those who enter their premises. Under Missouri law, property owners have different levels of duty depending on the status of the person on their land. The duty of care can be categorized into three main groups by their legal terms:
- Invitees: These are individuals who are invited to the property for a specific purpose, such as customers in a store. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees and must ensure the property is reasonably safe and free from hazards by maintaining the premises to that standard and warning licensees of unseen dangers.
- Licensees: These are individuals who enter the property with permission but not necessarily for a commercial purpose, like social guests or maintenance workers. Property owners owe a duty to warn licensees of any known hazards or dangers on the property.
- Trespassers: Property owners owe the lowest duty of care to trespassers but must not engage in willful or wanton misconduct that could harm them. A trespasser, in most circumstances, could not bring an action against a property owner for a slip and fall accident.
Breach of Duty
In a premises liability case, establishing a breach of duty is crucial. To prove negligence, it must be demonstrated that the property owner breached their duty of care. This could involve failing to address known hazards, inadequate maintenance, or lack of warning signs. Key factors to consider when assessing a breach of duty include the foreseeability of harm and the reasonableness of the property owner’s actions or inactions.
For example, if a local business fails to clear the ice from the parking lot on their property, and a customer slips and falls, the business is likely to be liable for that person’s injuries because their customer was an invitee, and it was reasonably foreseeable that their lack of action in clearing the ice would cause someone to slip and fall.
To successfully pursue a premises liability claim, it is essential to demonstrate that the injury was caused by the other party, and that it resulted in damages, which could be physical, emotional, or financial. Damages can encompass medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and any other losses resulting from the injury.
Missouri follows a system of comparative fault, which means that the injured party’s degree of fault is considered in determining the amount of damages they can recover. Understanding this aspect of Missouri law is crucial, as it can significantly impact the outcome of a premises liability case.
Contact Dreyer & Tinney Today for a Free Consultation
Premises liability cases can be intricate, and the ability to navigate them successfully requires a deep understanding of the law. By embracing these principles and recognizing their significance, attorneys and their clients are better equipped to face the challenges posed by premises liability claims in the state of Missouri. Call the personal injury attorneys at Dreyer & Tinney today at (417) 782-6822 or fill out our contact form for a free legal consultation about your case.