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Can You Sue If You Fall on Private Property?

Published on Jul 23, 2020 by Thomas Law Offices.

Private property sign in front of field with houses in the background

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Every year, thousands of Missouri residents are injured because property owners and business owners fail to take the necessary precautions to keep their premises safe. No matter the hazardous circumstances that led to your fall, it’s important to understand your legal rights and options. Depending on the situation, you may be able to file a personal injury claim. Let’s take a look at Missouri’s state laws and whether you can sue if you fall on private property.

Understanding Premises Liability in Missouri

Under Missouri law, the at-fault party or entity in a premises liability case is the one who had possession or control of the premises where the injury occurred. For all personal injury claims, however, Missouri is a comparative negligence state. This means that a property owner can claim you bear some responsibility for your accident.

It’s a common tactic for the defendant to claim the plaintiff is partially responsible for their injuries. Common arguments include the visitors not being invited to the property, inappropriate footwear, or lack of attention to surroundings.

In the event a plaintiff is found partially responsible for their fall but they are still eligible for compensation, their award will be reduced based on the percentage of their fault.

Visitor Categories in Missouri

Part of determining if you are eligible for recovery after a fall involves determining what category of visitor you fall under. Depending on the circumstances, a visitor could be an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.

In Missouri, an invitee is typically a business patron. If you go to a business, whether it’s locally owned or a larger corporation, to make a purchase and you are injured on the premises, you are classified as a business invitee. In order to receive compensation, you must prove that a dangerous condition existed on the premises, the owner knew or should have known about the danger, and the owner failed to fix or warn of the problem.

A social guest is typically referred to as a licensee. So, if you are invited to a friend’s house for a social gathering, you are legally a licensee. If you are injured at their home and are looking to seek recovery, you have to prove a dangerous condition existed, the owner knew about the danger, you could not have known about it, the owner should have known you would not be aware of it, and the owner failed to use ordinary care to remove the hazard.

If a person is not invited to a property, they can be classified as a trespasser. In Missouri, property owners are generally not liable in the event a trespasser is injured on their property. However, exceptions may apply if a child is injured as a trespasser.

What to Do After a Slip and Fall

It’s normal to feel shaken up after falling. It’s important, however, to remember the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your future. Immediately after getting hurt on someone’s property, assess the situation. Depending on how and where you fell, you may need to seek medical attention immediately. This is especially true if you hit your head.

Take a look around you and see if you can determine what caused your fall. Make note of circumstances like torn carpet, loose railings, or poor lighting. If you can, take a photograph of the scene. You should also report the accident to the property owner and document the incident in writing.

Once you’ve sought medical attention, it’s time to contact an attorney. Injuries can result in expensive medical bills, and it’s possible you could need to take time off work to heal—which could make your financial situation even more precarious. Contacting a lawyer will ensure you learn about your legal options and take the necessary steps to seek and receive the compensation you need to move forward.

Contact Thomas Law Offices 

If you’ve been injured on someone’s property, you may be able to take legal action to seek compensation for your losses. We understand that pursuing a personal injury claim while trying to manage your injuries is challenging, which is why we’ll be by your side every step of the way.

In order to ensure you have the best chances of a full and fair recovery, contact Thomas Law Offices as soon as possible after a fall on private property. We’ll evaluate your situation, determine if legal action is available to you, and help you take the necessary steps to secure your future. Contact us today for more information.

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At Thomas Law Offices, our personal injury attorneys recognize that our potential clients are likely going through some of the most difficult times of their lives. We don't want you to have to worry about paying out of pocket for legal advice when you're just starting to learn your legal rights and options. That's why we provide free case evaluations. We'll offer our expert advice about your potential case and walk you through how we can help you.

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Meet Our Founder

Tad Thomas - Trial Lawyer

Tad Thomas

Managing Partner

Tad Thomas has dedicated his practice to representing plaintiffs in various types of civil litigation, including personal injury, business litigation, class actions, and multi-district litigation.

After graduating with his law degree in 2000 from Salmon P. Chase College of Law at Northern Kentucky University, Mr. Thomas immediately opened his own private practice and began representing injury victims.

In 2011, Thomas Law Offices was established in Louisville, Kentucky. Over the past decade, Mr. Thomas has expanded his firm and now has offices in three additional locations: Cincinnati, Ohio, Columbia, Missouri, and Chicago, Illinois. He is also a frequent lecturer on topics like trial skills and ethics and technology.

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