Under West Virginia law, property owners have a responsibility to provide a safe property to visitors, guests, and customers on the premises. Those properties can include everything from commercial properties like hotels, malls, restaurants and shopping malls to swimming pools and private residences.
Below are some of the kinds of negligence that can lead to fatal injuries on someone's property.
- Failure to secure a swimming pool, provide trained lifeguards, or sufficient life preservers near a pool
- Failure to maintain staircases and guardrails
- Failure to provide adequate lighting
- Failure to mop up spills on the floor
- Failure to stack merchandise and items on store shelves safely so that they do not topple off
- Failure to clean ice and snow outside a store
- Failure to provide adequate security at a commercial premises like a hotel or restaurant
But this liability may be limited in some cases. For instance, if a person suffers a fall on a patch of slippery ice just outside a grocery store, the property owner’s liability could depend on how long the ice was present at the spot.
If the ice was the result of recent snowfall just 10 minutes earlier, the property owner may avoid liability. However, if the ice had been left standing there for a long time without the property owner making any attempts to clear the ice, then liability could exist.
Proving Property Owner Liability in a Wrongful Death Claim
Whenever a person has suffered fatal injuries in an accident on someone else's property, his survivors may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the property owner to recover damages.
To file a wrongful death claim, you need to provide four essential factors existed.
- The property owner owed the deceased a duty of care to provide a reasonably safe property.
- The owner failed in that duty.
- The person died as a result of fatal injuries in an accident on the property because of the negligence.
- The survivors of the deceased suffered financial damages because of the death.
Of course, survivors filing a wrongful death claim may have to deal with defenses that the property owner might present, like that the deceased contributed to the accident. This may require proper evidence, which an attorney can help you recover and present in your claim or lawsuit against the property owner.
How to Build a Strong Premises Liability Claim
Holding the property owner liable for wrongful death can depend on the kind of evidence that you can present in support of your claim. For instance, if you can provide statements of witnesses who can testify that the person slipped on ice, or fell over a defective guardrail, or was struck by heavy objects falling on him in a retail store, it can help support your claim.
Other types of evidence can include the following.
- Medical reports
- Police reports at the scene of the accident
- Video surveillance
- Expert testimony
Damages Available in a Wrongful Death Claim
In a wrongful death claim, survivors of the deceased may be eligible to recover the following damages.
- Lost wages of the deceased
- Compensation for lost benefits
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of consortium
- Funereal and burial expenses
- The deceased’s medical expenses before the death
If you have lost a loved one in an accident on someone else's property, speak to a wrongful death attorney in Clarksburg at the Miley Legal Group about filing a claim for compensation. Call 304-931-4088 to speak to lawyer Tim Miley or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free evaluation of your case.