Fault in DC Private Property Liability Cases

Private property is property owned by a private individual that is not used for commercial purposes. If the property’s in reasonably good condition, then one has an argument that the owner exercised reasonable care.

The way that fault in DC private property liability cases works is, if the property is in bad condition, there is an argument that they did not take reasonable care to ensure the property was reasonably safe, and that can be a major factor because if the property’s not reasonably safe, then the jury’s more likely to find that they breached the standard of care. If you have been injured on private property due to someone’s negligence, consult a skilled premises liability lawyer that could fight for a positive outcome for you.

How Type of Property Impacts a Case

When it comes to fault in DC private property liability cases, a lot depends on where the injury happens. If it happens indoors, it is hard to investigate the claim because it is hard to get access to the area in which the claim arose. If somebody rents a house and a landlord does not take good care of it as required under the lease, then a person can have access to the place and the victim is going to be able to take pictures of the dangerous conditions right after the injury, and that really helps a person in making a case. However, if someone is at a Chuck E. Cheese and slips and falls on a spilled drink, then it is hard to get access to the premises while it is still in the condition it was in when the accident occurred.

Rights a Property Owner Has

Property owners have the same rights as everyone else. A property owner has the same rights as any individual that is brought into litigation.

Property owners have the right to be represented by counsel, the right to discovery,  the right to disclosure, the right to defend themselves, they have the right to hire experts, take pictures, put on a defense, and to set forth any good-faith basis they might have in order to argue that they are not responsible for the happening of the accident.

That being said, there are special standards of care for landlords. Landlords are required to provide a habitable residence and if they do not provide a habitable residence, they can be held liable for that.

Private vs. Commercial Property Accidents

The standard of care is a little bit different. Commercial property owners, typically, are going to have people on site who are maintaining and watching what is going on. Typically, a person is not going to get that when they are dealing with a private property owner. Usually, there is not someone on-site. Also, generally, if it is private property, the owner’s also the occupier, whereas, in commercial premises, that is not the case.

Comparative Fault System

It is impossible to discuss fault in DC private property liability cases, without discussing comparative fault. A comparative fault system is one in which, if someone is injured and they are partially at fault, any award that they might get from the jury is reduced by their percentage of fault. So, if they trip and fall on someone’s property and break their leg and a jury awards them $100,000 but they find they are 50% responsible, then they are only entitled to recover 50% of the value of the claim. If both people are at fault, then there is contributory negligence and the plaintiff does not recover.