Those who own or manage property are responsible for keeping the premises safe so guests or anyone else with a right to be on the property are not at risk of injury. Sadly, many people ignore this duty until it’s too late. Premises liability fatalities happen when someone dies because a property owner and/or manager knowingly neglected their responsibility to safety. Survivors have a right to bring a premises liability claim for wrongful death.
Examples of Premises Liability Wrongful Death Cases
The tragic fire at the Alpine Motel Apartments killed six people and injured at least a dozen more. Tenants of the building claim that there were no working smoke alarms, fire alarms, or extinguishers available. Moreover, they claim an exit door was locked shut. And, because there was no heating in the complex, residents used their cooking stoves to keep warm – which may have started the fire.
This is a prime example of a case in which survivors of those who died would be justified in bringing a wrongful death claim for a premise liability fatality.
Black Friday shopping deaths also apply: to date, 12 people have died due to stampedes, violent shoppers or other deadly incidents in stores on the day after Thanksgiving. Often, the retailers where these fatalities have occurred did not hire enough security or staff to keep the crowds under control. This oversight could make them liable for premises liability wrongful death suits.
Premises liability fatalities can be the result of:
- Slip and fall accidents
- Animal attacks, such as dog bites
- Fires and/or lack of fire or smoke alarms
- Negligent security that did not prevent an assault
- Malfunctioning elevators, escalators or amusement park rides
- Swimming pool drownings at hotels or peer-to-peer home rentals
- Exposure to toxic substances, such as lead or asbestos
- Injuries to children at a daycare or school
Proving Premises Liability for Wrongful Death
As in any premises liability case, when a wrongful death is involved, you must prove that the property owner or manager was, in fact, legally responsible for the premises liability fatality. There are four factors for proving premises liability:
- First, there must be contractual or implied duty of care in place. The deceased must have been on the property as either a welcome guest, or within the scope of their employment, such as a postal worker. If the person was trespassing, you’d have a harder time proving duty of care.
- Second, you must prove that negligence or some wrongful act on the part of the property manager or owner caused the dangerous condition. Examples might be a building code violation or a condition that created a substantial risk of injury, such as a cracked, uneven sidewalk.
- Third, you must be able to show that the owner/manager had notice of the dangerous condition, or enough time had passed that it created a reasonably foreseeable risk.
- Finally, you must show that the dangerous condition was the cause of the person’s injury.
If these four conditions apply, a knowledgeable, experienced premises liability fatality lawyer can help build a solid case in a wrongful death action.
Of course, filing a wrongful death lawsuit will not bring your loved one back. However, when property owners disregard basic public safety guidelines, it may cause injury or even death to others. Bringing a lawsuit against them for their gross negligence will help keep other people safe, help you to have some sense of justice and closure, and ensure that you are able to pay funeral expenses, outstanding medical costs, and other bills that your loved one’s sudden death has left you.