Des Moines Premises Liability Lawyer
Holding Negligent Property Owners Accountable
Iowa property owners—including homeowners, commercial property owners, and even government entities—have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable harm. Property owners should conduct routine maintenance and fix dangerous conditions that could lead to accidents. They should also warn others of these dangerous conditions in order to help prevent injuries.
When property owners fail to take these necessary precautions, and you are injured as a result, you could be entitled to financial compensation for your damages. However, pursuing a premises liability claim against a negligent property owner is rarely easy; it’s important that you work with a knowledgeable Des Moines premises liability lawyer who can help you understand your legal options and protect your right to a fair recovery.
The Basics of Iowa Premises Liability Law
Premises liability cases are similar to other types of personal injury claims in that you must prove another person or party owed you a duty of care and that they breached this duty of care, leading to your injuries and damages.
In Iowa, a property owner (whether it’s public or private property) owes you a duty of care if you are:
- An invited guest
- A customer
- An employee
- A tenant
- Lawfully on the property for any reason
If you are lawfully on the property and you can prove that there was a dangerous condition that the property owner knew or should have reasonably known could cause foreseeable harm, yet did nothing to repair or warn others of the condition, that caused your injuries, you are entitled to bring a premises liability claim.
While Iowa property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers, they could be held liable for damages if they intentionally caused harm to a trespasser. Additionally, property owners could be liable for injuries to a minor who was trespassing under the state’s attractive nuisance doctrine. Under this doctrine, property owners are liable when an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool, is likely to draw children or teens to the property and also pose foreseeable harm.
What Are Dangerous Conditions?
In premises liability law, the topic of “dangerous property conditions” comes up frequently. But what exactly are “dangerous conditions?” Essentially, a dangerous condition is any condition on the property that poses a foreseeable danger to others.
Examples of common dangerous property conditions include:
- Spilled liquids or merchandise
- Slippery floors
- Uneven flooring or ripped carpeting
- Swimming pools
- Unrestrained dogs and other animals
- Accumulated ice or snow
- Defective sidewalks
- Unsafe steps or stairs
- Lack of handrails
- Negligent security
- Insufficient lighting
- Lack of proper signage
- Poor building or land maintenance
- Tripping hazards, such as exposed cords or wires
When any such condition exists, and the property owner knows about it or should have known about it (within reason), they are legally required to fix, repair, address, or warn of the condition. Failure to do so generally constitutes negligence.
What If the Property Owner Blames the Victim?
A common defense in premises liability claims is asserting that the victim was injured because of his or her own negligence. The property owner might argue that the dangerous condition was open and obvious and, therefore, the victim should have been aware of it and taken steps to avoid being hurt. However, this is not always a valid or successful defense.
First, if a dangerous condition exists but the property owner does not address it, he or she is nearly always considered negligent except in rare circumstances. Second, even if you were partially at fault for the accident, this does not preclude you from bringing a claim for damages. Iowa’s modified comparative negligence rule allows injured individuals to recover damage up to the total amount minus their at-fault percentage as long as they are less than 50% at fault.
Why You Need a Skilled Attorney on Your Side
Property owners and their insurance providers will often go to great lengths to dispute premises liability claims. Whether you slipped and fell in a store, were attacked by a dog at a neighbor’s home, or were assaulted in a dark mall parking lot, it’s important that you reach out to an experienced attorney who can help you fight for justice.
With a background in insurance defense, Attorney King understands how these companies operate, as well as the tactics they use to dispute claims. Now, as an advocate for the injured, he fights back against these same tactics in his efforts to secure maximum compensation for his clients. Throughout the process, Attorney King can provide you with the answers and guidance you need, all while offering the compassionate, personalized representation you deserve.