“There’s been an accident.”

A phone call nobody wants to get. But it happens.

And once you’ve taken stock of the trauma and some time passes, you begin to realize: you’re on your own here. Nobody magically appears on your doorstep to walk you through how to handle the medical bills, the loss of income, the complete disruption of your lives.

Perhaps that’s what got you to open a web browser and begin to look for a premises liability lawyer in Burlington. Maybe you’re not sure what we do or how we can help.

We recently worked with a woman who was visiting a neighbor. As they said their goodbyes, and our client walked out the door, she slipped on the top step of the outside stairs. She reached for the railing; it wasn’t there. The neighbor’s husband had taken it off.

Our client fell four feet off the side of the staircase, fracturing her leg in three places. She couldn’t walk for months.

The homeowners’ insurance company told her they were sorry, but there was nothing they could do. It “wasn’t negligent” to take down the railing. Our client should have been more careful.

We got involved and took the case to court. In the course of moving the case to trial, we proved that the homeowners were running a business out of the house with people coming and going all day long.

In the end, we resolved the case for her without a trial. While we couldn’t give her back the months of immobility and pain, she got what she was owed.

And the railing went back up.

It’s often several months after an injury that we first hear from people about a Burlington premises liability case.

When you are shopping, eating at a restaurant, or visiting another’s property, you do not expect to get hurt. Property and business owners must maintain their premises to ensure your safety. Regrettably, not all landowners uphold the standard. When they fail to, and you are injured on their property, they can be liable under personal injury law.

If you or someone close to you was injured or killed on another’s property, contact a Burlington premises liability lawyer to discuss your case. An experienced personal injury attorney will listen to your story and help you determine your options. If you have a viable claim, Drew Palcsik will fight for your right to compensation.

Understanding Premises Liability Law

When you sustain an injury on another’s property due to their carelessness or oversight, they are liable to you for your damages. The idea behind the law is to create confidence that, in modern society, establishments must operate safe facilities for visitors.

If held liable, a defendant will need to compensate you for injury-related losses such as medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. Drew will help you understand the type of damages you could recover depending on the circumstances of your case.

The Duty of Care of Burlington Property Owners

In a Burlington premises liability lawsuit, one critical question is what the legal relationship between the landowner and the visitor is. The answer helps define the duty of care owed by the landowner to the entrant.

In the recent decision of Demag v. Better Power Equipment, Inc., 2014 VT 78 the Vermont Supreme Court joined the growing majority of jurisdictions that have abolished the invitee-licensee distinction as failing to reflect current social values regarding premises liability. The Court found that a visitor’s safety is no less worthy of protection by the law merely because he or she is a social guest and not a business invitee, and that “the arbitrariness, rigidity and complexity of the distinctions that have developed to separate licensees from invitees is one of the reasons” for abandoning the distinction.  In Demag, the court held that landowners now owe the same duty of care to licensees as to invitees and that the general standard of “reasonable care in all the circumstances” is a better reflection of society’s expectation of the duty of care owed by landowners to all lawful entrants.  The decision does not alter the duty of care owed to unlawful trespassers.

A trespasser is a person who comes on to another’s property without a legal reason to be there or without permission. If the trespasser’s presence was known or should reasonably have been expected, the owner has a duty to act with reasonable care towards the trespasser. The property owner may also be liable to a trespasser by an act done in the trespasser’s presence if the owner should have foreseen that it would endanger them.

Finally, the owner must avoid wanton or willful misconduct that might cause the trespasser harm. This is intentional behavior that the property owner knows, or should have known, could likely injure someone.

Consult a Burlington Premises Liability Attorney

You deserve justice for the injuries you experienced because of another’s failure to maintain their property. Under premises liability law, you have the power to exercise your legal rights to hold the negligent property owner liable.

Drew Palcsik at Champlain Valley Law will help you navigate the legal process, starting by exploring your options for recovery. Contact a Burlington premises liability lawyer today to begin your case.