Wyoming Premises Liability Lawyer
We want you to feel supported in this difficult time. Getting hurt is terrible. You are probably looking at a stack of medical bills, wondering what you can do. Wyoming premises liability lawyer Fred Harrison can help you get justice. Call us for a free consultation.
Tips for a Successful Claim
Feeling helpless is very common for people who have been seriously injured. You don’t have to feel like there is nothing you can do right now. You are able to act in a way that will positively impact the chances of a successful case for you. There are a few things you can and should do to help your civil claim.
These cases are tricky, but you can do things to help. Here are three things to help you get a fair result in your premises liability case:
- Get evidence from your accident.
- Report your accident.
- See a doctor for your injuries.
There is not a lot a lawyer can do to help you win your claim if they don’t have a report on your accident or evidence that it happened. You can report your accident to someone in charge where you got hurt. You can also have the authorities come to the scene and file a report on the accident.
Evidence that you can collect on your own includes pictures that you take on your phone. You can also take videos. Then ask for contact information from the witnesses of your accident.
Don’t Try to Do This Alone
Technically, you can try to win a premises liability case without the help of a lawyer, but the chances of you getting the results that you deserve and desire are slim to none. Odds are you have never had to represent yourself or someone else in a premises liability case. These cases are tricky. It takes a skilled lawyer to get the results you want and deserve.
You may think that you should try to do this without a Wyoming premises liability lawyer, but it is not a good idea. Don’t try to do this alone, if you don’t have to. We wouldn’t expect that you have the time, effort, or resources to become an overnight expert on premises liability. In order to have a successful claim, you need the help of an expert. Leave this to the professionals. Your Wyoming premises liability lawyer should have experience with these cases as well as a proven track record with these types of cases.
The insurance company is not going to be forgiving to you. They have a goal of saving themselves money. If that means trying to throw out your claim, they will try to do that. It is a threat to your justice, and you should have someone fighting for you while the insurance fights against you.
Mistakes to Avoid So You Don’t Ruin Your Premises Liability Claim
As stated before, you have the power to impact what happens to your claim. You’re not a passive party. You can act in a way that results in good or harm. We know how easy it is for clients to make small, seemingly harmless mistakes that snowball into something that ends up ruining their case’s success.
There are two big mistakes that are going to lose you money. If you want to have a successful case, avoid making them.
The first is talking to the insurance company about your case. You will likely get phone calls from the insurance company asking for a statement. Do not give them one. You do not want them to get you on record saying something that will hurt your case. It will not help you in the long run. In fact, it could ruin your claim.
The second is waiting to see a doctor or ignoring a doctor’s advice. Let’s say your back was really badly injured. Your doctor tells you not to lift anything more than five pounds while you are recovering. You are at trial for your personal injury claim and the other side has proof that you were lugging around your kid’s hockey bag. They wouldn’t care that your kid couldn’t lift the bag on their own and you were in a hurry to get to practice, so you pushed through the pain to help. They only care that it appears like you lied about your injuries.
Frequently Asked Premises Liability Questions
What common mistakes should I avoid when making a premises liability claim?
Common mistakes that people make in premises cases in Wyoming are they, first of all, talk to the insurance company on the other side, or talk to the adjuster for the insurance company. For instance, if you fall at a grocery store, a major chain, what will happen is that the adjustment company from that chain will contact you right away and want a statement from you. People make those statements, and of course, those will always be used against you in the future. You don’t want to do that. Secondly, people will post the darndest things on Facebook that will cause real problems in the case later on. Some people will have to explain away what they’ve said, which is not always easy to do, and so you need to take that into consideration. Insurance companies will use that against you every time if they can.
For instance, a grandmother posted a picture of her hugging her grandchild on Facebook. That was used against her to prove that she really wasn’t hurt because she was smiling at the time she was holding her grandchild, even though she had a very serious injury. In that moment of joy, she was able to put aside her injury momentarily in that photo. That will be used against you, so you want to get rid of that kind of information as quickly as possible. Facebook is something that is really a problem in modern cases. It can be if it shows the wrong kind of stuff and is open to the general public, so keep that in mind. It’s a problem we don’t need to have, so keep that in mind. Those are common mistakes that people make.
Other mistakes people make is they don’t preserve photographs of the area. As soon as possible, we need to have photographs of those areas. For instance, if there’s a grape on the floor in a grocery store— certainly a common thing that people slip on— if you get a photograph of that, that’s great. Often times we won’t, but we will get a report from the grocery store as to what was on the floor, and that helps us in the case. Oftentimes, there are pictures taken in the store itself which will help us in those kinds of cases. I have to look at every case.
Don’t make the mistake of talking to the insurance adjuster. That’s for sure. Be careful what you’re posting on Facebook. If you don’t have to post it on Facebook, please don’t.
How do I choose the right attorney for my premises liability claim?
Some people come to me and say do you handle premises cases? Yes, I do handle premises cases. In fact, they’re a large part of my practice, and I’m a referring attorney for a national board, a groups of attorneys that work on these kinds of cases in Wyoming. I’m the only referring attorney for that group in Wyoming, the largest group of claims attorneys in the nation that handle these kinds of cases. I would look at the qualifications of the attorney first of all, his specialization in premises cases, which I’ve done a lot of over the years, and his recognition nationally for having done these kinds of premises cases. I have a lot of recognition on these types of cases and the track record of earning a Lifetime Achievement Award as a lawyer handling personal injury cases. My dedication also involves pursuing continuing legal education constantly, as well as training constantly with other attorneys that handle these kinds of cases and learning what to look for in these kinds of cases. Premises cases are cases that I think are often good cases overlooked. Most attorneys don’t realize the value in these cases, but I do. I’m willing to help. Serious injuries can occur in these kinds of cases. Any kind of slip and fall, trip and fall, those kinds of cases are the cases that I’m interested in and interested in talking to you about, so keep that in mind. If you have further questions, call my office in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Can I still recover compensation if the defendant says they were unaware of the hazard?
I’ve been asked, if there’s a situation in which the owner of the premises or the owner of the property doesn’t know that there’s a dangerous condition, can you recover? The answer to that is it depends on the design of the premises and who designed it. If the owner doesn’t know and they haven’t had notice of a defect, you’ve got a problem with the case unless you can prove a design defect. The way you prove a design defect is you have to look. For instance, you can have a situation where the gutter drips water in a particular place because of the design of the gutter, because of the way it was constructed. Those issues may bring into account whoever designed it, whoever constructed it, as a possible defendant in the case, but those are tougher cases if there’s no notice and nobody else has fallen over. Other similar incidents are very important in those kind of cases, usually, and you have to look into them. Oftentimes, there will have been other problems beforehand. It depends.
A friend of mine did a case against a casino in Arkansas. What occurred was that they had a number of elderly people which they draw into casinos that fall over a particular step. They had it on video. That’s information. There was a record of events that could be used against the premise’s owner. If you have a design defect in a case, and they also had notice to the owner, that’s a strong case. That’s how you put your case together.
Again, it depends on the case. We have to look at every case. If you want us to look at your case, just give us a call at our office in Cheyenne.
What should I do if I was injured on residential property?
If you’re seriously injured on a residential property, the question becomes what should you do? First, you should seek medical care as quickly as possible. That’s for certain. Secondly, if you can, get someone to go back and take pictures of whatever it was you fell on, or tripped over, or whatever caused your injury. That’s very important, getting lots of photographs. Sometimes, I have people who will say, well, we took pictures. I’ll ask to see the pictures. They’ll give me the pictures, and I’ll have three or four photos that don’t really show very much. So, the more pictures the better. We have cameras on our phones now. You can take, literally, 30, 40 pictures at a time. The more pictures, the better of whatever it is.
I had a truck crash case, a rear-end collision. We successfully resolved the case, but I’ll tell you what, we had a real problem because the client only took a couple pictures. One of the pictures was of a small dent in the back of the truck, which didn’t express the full damage done to the truck. Based on that, we found out that people in trying out our focus group had a real problem with that damage. They took the position that there couldn’t have been serious injuries to the client. Because of that, we had to take that into consideration of the case, and that affected the value of the case. The more photographs the better, especially all the angles, all the positions, all the surrounding area. The sooner we get those pictures, the better, too. If you have other questions like that, give me a call.
What should I do if my child was injured on school property?
I have a case right now where a child was injured at school. First of all, you hope that the school will notify you of the event, what occurred, and that’ll be in the report. That doesn’t always happen. In fact, I’ve seen it not happen. More often than not there isn’t a report. Sometimes the child will go to the school nurse, when the event occurred. What you shouldn’t do is you should not make statements such as my child has brittle bones and that kind of stuff to anybody at the school or call up the doctor and say my child is without pain. They may be out of pain for one day, but then the pain comes back, which I’ve actually seen happen more often than not. You can feel good on one day.
You don’t want to make those kind of statements that are anyway recorded either by the doctor, or the nurse, or whoever. It may be a mistake you regret later on. That is just a momentary lapse in judgement, and you have to be careful and guarded over those things. The best thing to do is contact a lawyer as soon as possible after the event so you know what to say and when to say it and so that the evidence can be preserved under the circumstances. Sometimes evidence is not preserved. You want it preserved. Be honest, of course, but be careful that you don’t say too much. That may live to be a problem for you in the future.
Can I file a claim if I’m partially at-fault for my premises liability injury?
Sometimes people blame themselves. They may have gone in a door, seen the dangerous hazard, and then not thought about it on the way out and tripped over it. It’s important to understand in these cases that both the victim and the premises can be at fault. In Wyoming, we have a thing called comparative fault, by which we compare the fault of the various parties to determine who’s most at fault. If you’re more than 50% at fault, then you cannot recover. The law is you can’t recover, but if you’re 49% at fault and the other party’s 51% at fault, you can recover 51% of your damage.
I actually had that happen in a jury trial, a construction and slip and fall case. In that case, we had a recovery. The plaintiff had a substantial burn and was seriously injured but was found to be 49% at fault for his own injuries. We were still able to recover 51% of fault against the refinery company for the injury that occurred because of the premises injury. We also got recovery from the subcontractor in the case, too. You can have a recovery. It depends on the circumstances, but you can be partially at fault. Now, if you see that there’s substantial fault on the party, we may consider not taking that case, but we have to look at every case individually. We’ll be happy to take a look at yours. Give us call at my office in Cheyenne.
How do I determine the value of my premises liability claim?
Determining the value of every case, including premises cases in Wyoming, is always different. Every case is different. It depends on the injuries. It depends first and foremost on what the other party did to cause the injury. If you’re talking about failure to monitor a Marriott parking garage and someone gets raped, that’s a premises case, and that can be big damages. If they didn’t have a security camera there and you and other people have been attacked or had problems in that parking garage, that drives the damages up significantly. The emotional lifetime injury is certainly great, and something the jury will take into account.
I’ve also handled cases with hip fractures where somebody fell in a grocery store, was seriously injured, and had a heart attack as a result of the hip injury. That drives the damages. Also, the fact that they knew there was a problem. There was a trip hazard in the store that they didn’t correct, and they knew about it for a significant amount of time. The notice to the premises owner is important to figuring damages, so all of those factors need to be taken into account. Every case is different. I have to look at your case and tell you what I think it’s worth. We can’t usually tell you right away. We have to consider all the evidence— the medical records, the premises records, etc. All of that goes into the equation when considering what your case is worth.
Should I give a recorded statement about my premises liability injury?
If you’re injured in a slip and fall, trip and fall kind of case, my advice is never give a statement to the insurance company on the other side of this. If you experienced a fall in a grocery store, for instance, somebody would call you up that adjusts the claims for the grocery store. Sometimes there’ll be an adjustment company that comes in before the insurance company. They’re often self-insured, these grocery stores. They call you up and want a statement. It will always be used against you. If you tell them what time it is at the time you fell down, they’ll say, well, you were looking at your watch, and that’s why you didn’t see where you were going. That’s why you tripped. That’s why you fell.
It’ll never be used to your benefit, so keep that mind. Never make that statement to the insurance company at all. You can maybe talk to your own insurance company if they call you, but they won’t call. The insurance company on the other side, they will call, and those are the people you have to be careful of. They’re not honest, and they know all the tricks. They’ll ask all the wrong questions, and the answers will all be used against you. Keep that in mind. If you have other questions like this, call my office in Cheyenne.
Should I accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer?
Often, in the premises cases here in Wyoming, people will be injured, and they’re called up by the grocery store adjustment firm or whatever it might be. They’re given a first offer. Sometimes they’ll say, well, we’ll pay all your medical bills. First of all, after you’ve been seriously injured, you don’t know what all your medical bills may be, so you don’t want to take that first offer. You don’t know for sometimes months the full extent of the injuries that you have. It takes a long time to figure out exactly how bad you’re hurt, especially with soft tissue injuries. Those kinds of injuries take a long time to figure out whether ligaments are involved, tendons, or a bone has been displaced in your back. All kinds of things can affect the damages, and you don’t know the full effect.
Don’t take that first offer. If you take that first offer, they’re going to have you sign a release, and that release is going to say you release them forever. You’ll never be able to get that money back if you have a much more serious injury. I’ve seen people take small amounts upfront thinking they don’t have much of an injury, and then, later on, they’re very sorry they did that. Those releases are binding, so please keep that in mind. If you have other questions like that because of an injury, let us know here in Cheyenne at my office.
How long is it going to take to resolve a premises liability claim?
In Wyoming, premises cases usually are filed in the state courts. Typically, we don’t have situations where there’s an out of state company on the other side. I have had premises cases tried in federal court. There are fewer of those around. If we’re at state court, it takes long because our state courts are much slower in Wyoming than our federal court in handling personal injury cases. That’s an unfortunate fact, maybe because we don’t have enough judges, maybe because of all the other kinds of cases in use, such as criminal cases, divorce cases, et al. Those kinds of cases clog up the docket. Only 5% of the cases are cases of personal injury, like a premises case that you’re going to be talking to me about.
All of those factors go into it, so you’re looking at probably a year to two years to resolve premises cases. Of course, part of that time will be the time that we prepare. I believe in doing 80% of the preparation before the case is filed, so keep that in mind because there’s a lot of work to be done before you file a case and put the other side on notice to preserve the evidence, and develop the evidence, and know what to do with the evidence when we go to trial or settlement. You’re not going to have a good settlement unless you’re prepared for trial. If you have other questions like this, feel free to call my office in Cheyenne.
Do I need to make an accident report at the location where I am injured?
Sometimes people are injured, say, at a grocery store. The adjuster will do an insurance investigation for the grocery store. Often, the grocery store self-insures. Whatever the premises are, it may be insured or self-insured, and they’ll want information. The other side of that is that they’re writing all this down. Now, I don’t think it’s really a good idea for you the client, the injured person, to go to them and ask for an incident report or accident investigation. I think that’s up for me to do on your behalf because I will get the right amount of information.
I can think of a case in this grocery store chain in Rawlins, Wyoming that I had a few years ago. What occurred in that case is that a lady fell, and there was a videotape taken by the grocery store of what occurred. She was seriously injured, an elderly lady. They had left water on the floor during a rainstorm and had not cleaned it up. The rainstorm had occurred earlier in the day, hadn’t cleaned it up. She fell on the water. It was right inside the entrance and was seriously injured, and they had her leave. They had a report, and I was able to get that for us. I got that report, and it said that they had a videotape of what occurred. Unfortunately, they had destroyed the video in the course of business they said. That played a large role in getting a substantial greater settlement because they had destroyed the evidence in that case.
It’s better for me to get the information and document the fact that we have the information. The course of discovery then becomes contempt of court or spoliation of evidence for them to destroy evidence. That’s a much stronger position than for you to get the report. I would advise letting the attorney handle it and other questions like that, as well.
Can I sue a city or county for my premises liability injury?
I’m often asked, if you are injured on a public property of some kind, including city, county, or federal property, can you sue? Yes, you can. Where you sue and how you sue may be affected by what the public entity is. For instance, if it’s in a certain county, you’re going to have to file your lawsuit in that county, but you can still sue. Now, there will be caps on damages, as well. You have to take that into consideration. If you trip and fall at the post office, you can file a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act against the post office, and you can sue the post office under those circumstances. I had a law partner many years ago that fought successfully against the post office in a case. It can be done, and it will be done.
You need to take into account that there may be caps on damages if you sue a public entity. We can figure that out. It also may be affected by the insurance they have, which may affect the cap also. Take those things into account. We have to look at every case based on the individual merits of that case, and we’re here to do that. Give us a call in Cheyenne, Wyoming if you have a question. We do cases all over the state of Wyoming.
What if the property owner says I was trespassing?
Sometimes it comes up that you’re accused of trespassing on the property where you were injured. That can be a problem if the property is posted as private property, and you’re actually trespassing. You knew you were trespassing. Often, you don’t know you’re on somebody else’s property at that point in time, or you’re invited in. If you are campaigning for a candidate, for example, that caused you to be on the property. It’s not posted you can’t go up to the door and knock. Under those circumstances, you’re not a trespasser, so just because somebody says you’re a trespasser doesn’t mean you are a trespasser.
In fact, you can be invited onto other people’s premises for their own business purpose. For instance, if they’re running a business such as a movie theater and you can go into the movie theater thinking you’re safe and somehow there’s a trip hazard, under those circumstances, you’re certainly not a trespasser, and the property owner’s responsible for the property and is under the obligation to provide you with a safe environment. If the property’s not posted in Wyoming, it’s not likely that you’d be trespassing anyway. Keep those things in mind. We can help you with those things and look at your case. Give us a call at my office in Cheyenne, Wyoming if you need help with a case like that.
What is an unsafe property condition?
We’re often asked, what is an unsafe condition on a property in Wyoming? There are lots of things that can be an unsafe condition. The main thing is notice to the premises owner. For example, I had a case many years ago against a little diner. It was part of a national chain, actually. In this case, they had a door that would freeze with ice right inside the foyer so that there was a really slippery condition inside the foyer because of the way they designed the premises. Because the way the wind blew, it blew directly in the door, and it blew water under the door which would freeze in the foyer so that people would walk on through the door, think they were inside, and slip and fall. This had happened multiple times, and there were memos to the national chain from the local diner that we need to have somebody come in and fix this so that there’s a windbreak outside the door that prevents the water from blowing into the door and causing the slippery condition. There’s actually that information in the document.
Now, that’s a dangerous condition for two reasons. One, it’s a design defect. Whoever the person is that designed this designed it wrong, so it’s a design defect, which is one of the things that makes it a dangerous condition. The second thing is that they had notice of the fact. Regardless of the design, they had notice of the fact that they had a problem on the premises, and notice is very important. Somebody drops a grape in the grocery store, and the person behind them slips on it. The store doesn’t have time to have notice of that fact, and another customer dropped the grape. That’s probably not a dangerous condition unless you can prove that the grapes fall off all the time or something like it.
Something that is a design defect, which the designer should know better in Wyoming because the wind blows from certain directions, that’s a dangerous condition. If you have notice to the owner that it’s a dangerous condition and they don’t do anything about it, then somebody gets hurt, that’s a dangerous condition. If it’s ice in the parking lot of the Kmart, say, that’s probably not a dangerous condition in Wyoming because it’s not something you can really control. If it’s is a dangerous condition that’s designed in the premises or it’s a dangerous condition they have notice of that’s not just nature itself, then you have a case. We have to look at every case differently. A number of attorneys turned that case down against the diner. I didn’t, and we had a successful outcome in the case.
Call Wyoming Premises Liability Lawyer Fred Harrison Today
Fred Harrison is a Wyoming premises liability lawyer who really cares about what happens to his clients. Your story matters. You deserve to have someone by your side who really wants to see your case end in your favor.
There is a huge benefit to having an experienced Wyoming premises liability lawyer on your side. Call us today for a free consultation. We can guide you through your case to get you a fair result.