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How do I start determining liability of property owner?

With the back-to-school season upon many residents of Wilmington, many may be either going out shopping in the near future or moving into a new rental unit. In any event, a dangerous property condition can wreak havoc on a person's plans for the rest of the year. Sometimes a shopping trip results in a seemingly simple slip-and-fall accident, only for the accident victim to suffer lasting injury later on. However, dangerous property conditions can also result in wrongful death situations where the victim's family is likely to need extensive legal help.

Following a death that appears to be due to a dangerous property condition, such as a loose handrail on a stairwell, icy sidewalks, dilapidated construction or more, the family of the victim will generally want to be sure there was negligence involved. If so, they may be entitled to compensation. A wrongful death course of action can lead to badly-needed funds for issues such as lingering medical bills, funeral costs, lost wages of an income-earner and other expenses related to an untimely death.

Typically, the type of "duty of care" that a property owner owes to someone on his or her property depends upon the type of person on the property. For instance, the law often recognizes several different categories of people using property, such as invitees, trespassers and licensees. An invitee, for instance, would be a shopper inside of a retail store - usually, property owners owe the highest duty of care towards invitees. In general, a duty of care is the owner's legal obligation to ensure the property is reasonably safe for those using it.

It can be very confusing for victims' families to understand the liability of property owner with regard to their lost loved one. The legal situation can be different depending on if their relative was an invitee, a licensee, a trespasser or even a trespassing child. In addition, the elements of a wrongful death case will also depend upon different factors such as the age of the deceased, his or her income, their life prior to the fatal accident and the circumstances of the accident itself. Conversing with a wrongful death attorney can offer answers in the wake of an unclear liability situation.

Source: FindLaw, "Property owners' legal duty to prevent injury," accessed July 24, 2016

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Murphy & Landon

1011 Centre Road, Suite 210
Wilmington, DE 19805

Toll Free: 866-939-8100
Phone: 302-482-4381
Fax: 302-472-8135
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Murphy & Landon