If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury while at a business premise in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake or elsewhere in Virginia, you owe it to yourself to speak to an attorney to assess your legal options. Why? Because your ability to obtain financial restitution for harms and losses stemming from a business property injury is not guaranteed in Virginia. This is due to the fact that the Commonwealth of VA is a contributory negligence state, which means that if you were even 1 percent at fault for causing the business premises injury, you could be barred from recovering financial restitution. Take action by contacting the business premises injury lawyers with Shapiro, Appleton & Washburn. Our attorneys are ready to help and offer free, confidential consultations to all prospective clients.
Oveview of Business Premises Injury Liability
Many business property injuries are related to an avoidable defect at the property, such as a hole, ditch, patch of ice, exposed electrical wire, etc. Liability in business premises injury cases is generally determined by meeting the following factors:
- The property owner owed a duty of care to you;
- The property owner or the person responsible for the property breached that duty of care; and
- Your injury, or injuries, were proximately caused by the property owner's breach.
The legal status of the injured individual will also play a role on whether the property owner can be held liable. For example, the duty of care owed by the business property owner is higher for guests or invitees when compared to a trespasser.
A Virginia Beach business premises liability lawyer can help assess which legal status applies in your particular case. A seasoned attorney can also help establish that you were injured through no fault of your own and are entitled to financial restitution because of the nature of your injury.
Business Property Owner - Duty of Care
Property owners, including owners of businesses in Virginia Beach and elsewhere in Virginia, are legally obligated to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of their property. Reasonable steps generally include adhering to all local, state, and federal building codes as well as local, state and federal ordinances regarding safety. This means business property owners are generally required to remove debris, waste, and water to ensure the premises is safe for visitors. In addition, all Virginia businesses are required to comply with OSHA guidelines.
Common Defenses Raised by Business Property Owners
In business premises liability cases, it is fairly common for business owners to raise two defenses to challenge the veracity or viability of the injury claim - (i) lack of notice and (ii) contributory negligence. The lack of notice defense asserts that the plaintiff (i.e. the injured party) is unable to prove that the property owner knew about the defective condition or reasonably should have known that the defective condition existed. As a result, the business owner should not be held legally liable for your injuries.
The contributory negligence defense is also quite common in Virginia premises liability cases. This defense relies upon an archaic legal theory that asserts if a plaintiff is even just 1 percent at fault for causing their own injury, they are barred from pursuing a financial recovery from a defendant.
Financial Restitution That Can Be Pursued in a Business Property Injury Case
If you or a loved one was seriously injured through no fault of your own while at a business in Virginia, you may be able to pursue financial restituion for your harms and losses. The types of financial restitution you can pursue include the following:
- Medical bills;
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering related to the business property injury suffered
- Punitive damages (depending on the facts of your particular case)
Clock is Ticking on Your Ability to Take Legal Action
If you were injured while visiting a business premises in Virginia, it is important to understand that you only have a finite amount of time to take legal action against the business property owner. This is due to the statute of limitations. Generally, an injured individual has two years to file a lawsuit to try and hold the business property owner accountable for the accident. If you fail to bring a business property injury lawsuit within the statute of limitations period against the business property owner, your case could be outright dismissal and you would be barred from pursuing financial restitution for your harms and losses.
Do I Really Need a Business Premises Liability Lawyer?
You may be tempted to think that you do not need the services of an attorney since you can effectively negotiate on your own with the business owner's insurance company. This is a mistake and, unfortunately, many injured folks learn this lesson the hard way by being ignored or misled by an insurance company claims ajduster. It is important to understand that most insurance companies do not immediately offer reasonable settlements in business premises liabiltiy cases. In fact, insurance companies often refuse to settle and try to take their chances at trial. This is why it is so important to retain the services of a skilled and experienced Virginia business premises liability lawyer.