Washington, D.C., Premises Liability Lawyer

If you feel a sense of responsibility when you’re hurt in a fall on someone else’s property, don’t rush to judge yourself. Falls frequently cause injuries on commercial, public, and private properties in the District of Columbia. Annually, the CDC documents over three-million fall-related emergency room visits. Violence, fires, swimming pool accidents, and other sudden events also cause serious injuries and fatalities each year.

When poor maintenance, property defects, inadequate safety precautions, or other negligent acts cause these incidents, the property owner is responsible for your medical, financial, and personal losses.

At the Abelson Law Firm, we believe that negligent property owners should pay fair compensation for the damages they cause. We’ve worked hard to make sure that happens for our clients. Our legal team understands complex premises liability issues. We’ve resolved injury cases involving commercial buildings, public structures, and privately owned properties. We rely on our experience and our firm’s resources to produce the best possible results for our clients.

Our Law Firm’s Premises Liability Results

Each premises liability case is unique to the injured person and the circumstances. We can’t guarantee results based on past outcomes, but we’ve nonetheless resolved our client’s cases through aggressive negotiation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. We’ve investigated and prepared our clients’ cases for confident courtroom presentations. The Abelson Law Firm is proud to share cases from our 40-year track record of successful results. Our victories include multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements, but out of respect for our clients, we keep the financial details confidential.

  • Scaffolding incident – Jury verdict against premises owner: A window washer sustained serious orthopedic injuries and permanent neurological damage after a 9-story fall. The property owner used a less-expensive control device than the standard. This prevented the worker from confirming a safe building descent. The jury awarded a seven-figure verdict.
  • Scaffolding fall – Jury verdict against premises owner and clip manufacturer: When a building’s scaffolding safety hooks failed, a window washer fell six stories. The injured window washer suffered permanent neurological and orthopedic injuries. A jury decided in favor of our client and awarded a seven-figure verdict against the property owner and the clip manufacturer.
  • Electrocution fatality – Settlement with premises owner: When an energized high-voltage power line came into contact with a brick mason’s scaffolding support wire, he sustained fatal electrocution injuries. The building owner was negligent for failing to de-energize the power line. Our firm settled a wrongful death case on behalf of the decedent’s parents.

What are the Potential Premises Liability Injuries?

Each year, over 800,000 persons require hospitalization for fractures, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and other serious fall-related conditions. The numbers rise for older adults, with at least 300,000 hospitalized for hip fractures. Children are vulnerable as well. CDC Safechild stats document 8,000 fall-related ER visits per day across the country.

In the CDC’s WISQAR injury database, fires, inhalation, struck-by incidents, and assaults also rank high among the top ten injury-causing events. Drownings and falls commonly cause fatalities. Premises maintenance and safety omissions are often factors in these injury scenarios. As many types of premises-related events cause accidents, the injuries vary widely.

  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries with paralysis
  • Asphyxiations
  • Burns
  • Chemical burns
  • Fatal injuries
  • Hip fractures
  • Drownings
  • Serious soft tissue tears and sprains

Common Premises Liability Issues

Premises liability injuries occur due to a variety of errors, omissions, and conditions. While each premises accident is different, some occur due to common issues in commercial and public buildings and private homes.

  • Poor security
  • Poorly maintained staircases
  • Inadequate lighting in common areas
  • Improperly maintained amusement park rides
  • Inadequate swimming pool safety features and hazard warnings
  • Hazardous diving boards and pool slides
  • Poorly maintained elevators and escalators
  • Inadequate snow and ice removal
  • Unsafe store displays
  • Poorly maintained and cleaned floors
  • Defective handrails
  • Improperly designed playground equipment

Who Can Be at fault?

The owner is responsible for keeping a property safe and free of hazards. The responsibility may include others who have contractually assumed the owner’s responsibility. Additional responsible parties often include a real estate or leasing agent, management company, lessor, or security or maintenance company.

A property owner owes visitors the duty of reasonable care in maintaining a property and keeping it safe for visitors. When the person is a trespasser, a property owner owes a reduced standard of care. When a trespasser is on the premises, an owner may not commit a willful or wanton act or create any hidden hazards.

What Kind of Damages Might A Premises Liability Victim Recover?

Injury damages usually include economic damages and general damages. In rare instances, juries award punitive damages if evidence proves the defendant acted out of malice, deliberate violence or oppression or willful disregard of the injured person’s rights.

Economic damages are calculated on an injured person’s out-of-pocket expenses, including estimated future costs.

  • Lost earnings
  • Diminished earning capacity
  • Medical and therapy bills
  • Medications
  • Prosthetics and mobility devices
  • Transportation costs for medical treatment
  • Expenses for personal care and household services

General damages are based on an injured person’s subjective feelings and emotions about their injuries. They are often difficult to evaluate as they attempt to place a value on how a client’s injuries and disabilities affect their life and lifestyle. General damages include these and other factors.

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional anxiety
  • Spousal relationship diminishment
  • Family care issues
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Scars and disfigurement
  • Permanent disabilities

How Do Those Who Are Liable Try to Avoid Paying Their Fair Share?

Persons with a legal right to be on a property also have the right to expect safety and security. The owner has a duty to maintain the property accordingly, unfortunately when an injury occurs, property owners and their insurance companies often seek to avoid liability. When trying to defend a premises liability case, property owners cite the District of Columbia’s highly restrictive contributory negligence statute and other defenses.

  • Contributory negligence: While most states have enacted comparative negligence provisions, the District of Columbia has a particularly burdensome contributory negligence statute: if a property owner proves that an injured person was even slightly contributorily negligent, the injured person can be barred from recovering damages. This easy out encourages negligent property owners to push for low settlements or defend cases in court.
  • No negligence: If the defendant property owner proves they weren’t negligent, they pay nothing.
  • Plaintiff is a trespasser: As a property owner owes a higher duty of care to an invited guest, they try to prove that an injured person was a trespasser when the incident occurred. As a trespasser, the injured person must prove the property owner acted out of malice or wantonness.
  • Injury dispute: When a plaintiff is seriously injured, the property owner tries to reduce the damages. They dispute the injury severity or deny that the injury occurred on their premises.

How Much Does a Premises Liability Lawyer Cost?

At The Abelson Law Firm, your initial consultation is free. We listen to your story and determine if we can help you. We handle premises liability cases on a contingency fee basis. That means we don’t charge our clients until we resolve their case.

We Want to Help You Seek Justice

If you or a family member were seriously injured in a premises liability accident, The Abelson Law Firm wants to hear from you. Call us at (202) 331-0600 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. For more than 40 years, Michael A. Abelson The Abelson Law Firm has sought justice for injured clients in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Let him help you.


Our Case Results

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Medical Malpractice

A confidential settlement was achieved during trial against two pediatricians, arising from an injured newborn.

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Car Accidents

A rental car company negligently failed to perform adequate maintenance on its vehicles.

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  • American Board of Trial Advocates
  • Super Lawyers
  • American Association for Justice
  • Washingtonian
  • Martindale-Hubbell

If you find that you are in need of a personal injury lawyer, I HIGHLY recommend Attorney Michael Abelson. I suffered a permanent disabling injury in a car accident. Mr. Abelson worked hard on my case and prepared carefully for trial. He guided me every step along the way. His diligent preparation led to a settlement agreement that greatly exceeded my expectation. Date published: 09/07/2018
5 / 5 stars

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