Premises Liability

A routine shopping trip. A vacation. A weekend at a beach house. None of these should be dangerous activities.

But, sometimes, they are.

Hotels, apartments, beach houses, shopping centers and stores that aren’t properly maintained can result in catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death.

Wet floors can lead to slips and falls that cause broken bones and head injuries. A slippery frozen sidewalk in the winter can cause an ice accident. A failure to maintain the property can lead to a deck collapse or railing failure, which can cause serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury (TBI) or paralysis.

An unsafe store can lead to an accident — imagine a heavy object falling on you from the top of a shelf, causing a head injury. Sometimes, hotel security is inadequate; guests or visitors may be attacked, robbed or even murdered.

Commercial property owners and managers have legal obligations to make reasonable efforts to keep their premises safe. A failure to warn of danger may be negligence.

If this happens to you or a loved one, you should seek professional advice.

Thousands of people each year are affected by premises liability. Electrocution, drowning and other serious injuries can happen in an almost infinite-number of ways. Even problems with roads and parking lots, such as potholes — so-called “highway defects” — can result in injuries or property damage.

Serious injuries can require extensive medical care. In some cases, they can lead to long-term disability, making it impossible for you to work. Even relatively “minor” injuries can result in thousands of dollars in medical bills and lost time from work.

Catastrophic personal injuries and wrongful deaths can have severe financial and emotional impacts.

If something like this has happened to you, a friend or family member — you may be owed damages. And by pursuing a premises liability case, you could also force the property owner to make repairs and take steps to prevent similar problems in the future.

In 2005, according to federal research, 1,863 premises liability cases were decided by trial. And those were probably just a fraction of all premises liability cases that year.

Only 3.5 percent of premises liability cases actually went to trial — which means the rest were settled before trial, resolved in arbitration or mediation, or ended some other way. In many of those cases, the plaintiffs may have come away with compensation without having to go through an entire lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured on another’s property, you may have a legal right to compensation. How do you know? Ask a personal injury attorney with experience in premises liability cases.

On your side

If you are injured on another’s property, you may discover that the property owner or merchant has insurance and lawyers on call. You should have your own team of experts to support you.

Ward and Smith’s personal injury attorneys take a team approach for all their clients. That means there’s more than one lawyer available, if needed, to investigate and move your case forward. Licensed paralegals, certified litigation technology specialists and other support staff ensure the work on your case is done professionally and in a timely manner.

If you’re hurt, the first thing you should do is see a doctor. Once you’ve dealt with your immediate medical problems, the next thing you need to do is plan for the future. Will you have medical bills? How will you pay for them? Will you miss time off work? Will you have to care for a loved one?

Let us help you with those questions. A free consultation with a Ward and Smith attorney can help you understand your choices and make the best possible decisions.

Premises Liability: Representative Experience

Past results are no guarantee of future results. The summaries are not intended to indicate or guarantee that any of the same or similar results can be achieved in future matters; the outcome of a matter depends upon a number of factors. These summaries are intended only to provide general information about the experience of our attorneys. Summaries are drawn from 1992 through the present.

Jury Awarded Verdict in Favor of Slip and Fall Victim

A 57-year-old woman sustained orthopedic and neurological injuries when she slipped and fell on a handicap ramp, incurring expenses of about $15,000. The defendant denied negligence and asserted contributory negligence. The highest pre-trial settlement offer was $17,500. After a jury trial in Martin County, the woman was awarded total compensation of $92,750.

$350,000 Settlement for Slip and Fall in Retail Store

A 52-year-old state employee was injured when she slipped and fell in a store. The woman sustained neck injuries that eventually required surgery. The defendant contested liability and retained a neurosurgeon who testified that the woman’s ongoing neck problems and surgery were unrelated to her fall. The woman was treated for neck pain by an orthopedist approximately eight months prior to her fall. The case settled at the second mediation for $350,000.  

$1.018 Million Awarded for Slipping on Ice

A 65-year-old woman slipped on ice while entering the defendant’s premises. Earlier that day, an employee of the defendant had removed a substantial portion of the ice but was unable to remove it all. No warning signs were placed. Thereafter, the woman slipped on a thin, hard-to-see layer of ice and fell, striking both knees on the sidewalk. She required surgery on her left knee and a right knee replacement, incurring $190,000 in medical expenses. Before the accident, the plaintiff had been extremely active, but her resulting surgeries substantially limited her movement. The case was tried in Warren County, resulting in a verdict of $1.018 million.


We are your established legal network with offices in Asheville, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh, and Wilmington, NC.

Premises Liability Team