Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

When Is A Property Owner Liable For Your Injuries?

by Hunter Moore

In a wide range of situations, property owners have a legal responsibility to prevent others from being harmed while at their places. This duty extends to residential and commercial property owners. However, it's generally not seen as an unlimited duty. Here is a look at when you might want to contact a firm to discuss personal injury lawyer services after an accident on someone's property.

Invitation and Private vs. Public Space

A large majority of U.S. states require that some form of an invitation was involved, especially when someone is hurt in a private part of the property. The line between public and private spaces can be hard to distinguish sometimes, such as when a neighbor has an open backyard that your kids might run into. Also, determining who is liable for public spaces can get a little messy, such as when there isn't a current owner at a property to take care of a sidewalk.

Invitation, as a standard, is most evident in cases involving businesses. A convenience store, for example, extends an invitation to the public by putting out signs, advertisements, and other enticements. They usually have a sign that says "Open."

However, the invitation standard is beginning to erode. For example, California's system requires no invitation. In theory, someone could unlawfully enter a building, get hurt, and sue.

Contributory Negligence

Ask any personal injury lawyer, and they'll tell you that it takes more than just you getting hurt. Every state has some sort of rule that balances how the victim and defendant might have contributed to what happened. Generally, the defendant has to be found more than 50% liable for the victim to recover any compensation.

The victim's contribution is usually subtracted from the overall compensation total. Suppose you were found 20% liable for a slip-and-fall accident in a store. If the total injury claim was for $100,000, the court would subtract 20%. That would leave you with $80,000 before paying for other things, such as medical bills and personal injury lawyer services.

One major exception is strict liability. This usually applies in circumstances where extremely dangerous items, such as explosives, were present. In those cases, the defendant can only be found 100% or 0% liable.

Pursuing Compensation

The statute of limitations in most jurisdictions is between two and three years for normal injury cases. Specific types of cases are sometimes carved with longer statutes, such as ones involving chemical exposure. Also, some governments carve out shorter statutes when the defendant is the government, one of their employees, or a designee.

Contact a personal injury lawyer for more information.


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Good Fences And Not So Good Neighbors: Property Law 101

If you've recently moved into a new house and your neighbors are claiming you've infringed on their property line with your new fence, you may not know what to do. Sure, the idea of contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but if your neighbors are insistent that you're on their property and you can't prove otherwise, an attorney may be the best choice. I created this site to help people just like you understand the laws surrounding property boundaries, real estate claims, and similar issues. I hope that the information here will give you some clarity as to whether or not you need to consult an attorney to protect your interests.