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Does premises liability exist for injuries on public property?

If you attend a festival at a public park in West Virginia, and fall and break your ankle while you’re there, is anyone liable for the injury? The answer depends on numerous factors. For premises liability to exist, you must prove certain elements. If you were to file an injury claim regarding injuries that occurred on public property, the judge overseeing the case would consider its merits in conjunction with state guidelines for such issues. 

Various issues may have an impact on whether premises liability exists on public property. For example, if you were at a public park that had a large sign at its entrance stating that it closes at dusk, and your injury occurred at 9 p.m., you were not supposed to be on the property at that time. This would affect the court’s decision.  

Open and obvious hazards do not constitute premises liability 

If the average person would be able to notice a specific hazard upon casual inspection of a property, it is unlikely the court would issue a judgment against the property owner for injuries that occurred. The term “open and obvious” is ambiguous, and it may be to the court’s discretion to determine whether you should have been able to see the hazard before you tripped or fell or otherwise suffered injury.  

In some cases, there may be shared culpability when someone suffers injuries on public property. The legal term that refers to this is “comparative fault.” It doesn’t necessarily mean that the court wouldn’t award you compensation for damages if premises liability exists. However, it might affect the maximum amount of compensation to which you’d have a right.  

It’s always best to seek guidance before heading to court 

Personal injury and premises liability are complex areas of law. In some cases, a West Virginia property owner might be 100% liable for the injuries you suffer on public property. At other times, you might be partially at fault. In some cases, you might not be at fault and yet the property owner might not be liable. It all depends on the circumstances of your individual case.  

Going to court is a stressful experience, especially when you are a plaintiff trying to prove a premises liability case. It is helpful to seek guidance from someone who has litigated similar cases in the past. This type of support is often the key to a successful outcome.  

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