How Is Fault Determined in a Premises Liability Claim in Missouri? Unraveling the Legal Process

Photo of a Woman with an Injured Hand

The negligence of property owners or occupants can lead to serious injuries to guests. However, establishing fault and pursuing compensation can become a complicated process. The injured have to prove that the property owner or occupant failed to address a dangerous condition on their property. Let’s explore the legal process for establishing fault in a premises liability claim in Missouri. 

Understanding Fault Determination in Premises Liability

If a person is injured on another person’s property due to negligence or wrongdoing, they can file a premise liability claim against the responsible party. The case can be against any person or entity responsible for causing the accident. This includes the property owner, manager, occupants, or maintenance company. 

One example of a premises liability case is when a customer gets injured at a retail shop due to a slippery floor. The store owner or manager is likely negligent if they do not put up a sign warning visitors about the hazard. Evidence and documentation play a key role in fault determination in premises liability cases. This includes witness statements, surveillance footage, and medical records for the injury. 

Missouri’s System for Determining Fault in Premises Liability

The first step to establishing fault in a premises liability claim is to prove that the defendant had a duty or care toward the plaintiff. Property owners and occupants have a duty to ensure there are no hazards on their premises or put up appropriate warnings of danger. The duty of care would be different for a visitor who has been invited to the property compared to a burglar or trespasser.

As a claimant, you will also have to demonstrate that the defendant knew about the safety hazard on the property or should have known about it. The property owner must have a reasonable opportunity to fix the problem or to warn visitors about the danger. If they neglected their duty of care and that resulted in your injury, you have the right to seek compensation. The negligence should be a direct cause of the plaintiff’s injury. 

According to Missouri law, the statute of limitations for a premises liability case is five years from the date the injury was discovered. Missouri is one of only a dozen states that follows a pure comparative fault system. In this system, the claimant can recover damages even if they are partially at fault in the accident. The compensation is adjusted according to the percentage of fault. 

Expert witnesses can be useful in determining liability and the percentage of fault. They have the specialized knowledge and technical skills to offer their opinion on matters related to the premises liability case. Their expertise may also allow them to reconstruct events based on the available evidence. 

Legal Consequences of Fault in Premises Liability Claims

The at-fault party is liable to pay for damages to the victim or victims. The damages you can receive depend on the specifics of your case. The most common damages for such cases include medical expenses, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, property damages, and pain and suffering. Medical expenses include all medical costs required to treat the injuries that resulted from the incident such as visits to the doctors, hospital stays, physical therapy, prescriptions, and assistive devices. 

As litigation can be an expensive and drawn-out process, you can consider settling out of court. The extent of the fault and severity of the injuries play a crucial role in settlement negotiations. However, if no settlement is reached, the injured person has the right to proceed with litigation. 

If the at-fault party has premises liability insurance, they can get financial coverage through their policy. However, if the damages are more than the maximum limit, then they will have to make other arrangements to pay the damages. The property owner can also expect their insurance premiums to rise after the incident.

Legal Resources and Support

Have you suffered an injury on someone else’s property? You can use evidence, such as witness statements, to build a strong case against the liable party. For example, if you have a credible witness who can support your claim, it can significantly strengthen your case. Gathering evidence and navigating through the legal proceedings can often be challenging. However, premise liability lawyers can help you seek compensation for your suffering and help you gather evidence. Our experienced lawyers are well-versed in relevant laws and have the resources to support their arguments and counter opposing claims in court.