New Mexico property owners need to keep their properties reasonably safe. When they don’t and their failures lead to injuries, the victims can sue for their damages. These types of cases are call “premises liability” claims.
The basics of a premises liability claim are fairly simple. There are four key components. However, there are also a variety of exceptions and nuances that can make the cases more complicated.
The four key components of a premises liability claim
Premises liability claims follow the general rules for personal injury or “tort” claims. This means they focus on the idea of negligence and must prove four things:
- The property owner or manager had a duty to maintain the premises
- The owner or manager failed to meet this duty
- That failure led directly to an injury
- That injury created real and measurable damage
There are finer points to each of these standards. For example, property owners have a “duty” to keep their properties reasonably safe for invitees and the general public. However, is someone trespasses on their property, the owners don’t owe quite the same duty.
Similarly, one of the common challenges in a premises liability case is proving that the owner breached the duty of care. Part of the reason this can be tricky is that you have to show the owner knew or should have known about the dangers.
Sometimes, you can find concrete evidence that the owner knew about the dangers and simply ignored them. Other times, you must prove the owner had constructive notice. This means that any owner who had taken reasonable steps to maintain the property would have been aware of the problem.
Many exceptions and nuances
Although the basics of a claim are relatively simple, there are many possible twists:
- New Mexico grants governmental immunity to most governmental property owners
- Victims may not be aware that property owners can owe a duty to people outside their property boundaries
- Victims need to file within the statute of limitations
- New Mexico uses a comparative fault system, meaning you may need to argue not only whether the property owner was at fault, but to what degree
Also, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a wide variety of issues that can boil down to “premises liability” claims. Traditionally, people might think about the stereotypical “slip and fall” case in a grocery store, but property owners need to do more than keep their floors clean and dry. Premises liability cases may include:
- Dog or animal bites
- Construction site accidents
- Swimming pool injuries
- Food poisoning at a restaurant
- Assaults assisted by inadequate security
Again, the common denominator in all these cases is that the property owner has a duty to care for the safety of others and failed to uphold that duty. If that failure leads to injury and damages, you have the right to sue.
Do you have a case?
If you have suffered an injury because someone else failed to take care of their property, you may want to sue. But do you have a case? Can you show that person owed you a duty of care? How can you prove they knew about the problem? How can you draw a direct line between the property issue and your injury?
The principles of premises liability cases are simple. But victims typically need legal help to make their cases solid. If you wonder if you have a case, you can ask an experienced personal injury lawyer. Consultations are usually free.