Do Warning Signs Protect Property Owners from Liability?
Premises liability injuries are some of the most common accidents that happen in the United States. Many of these accidents are the result of negligence on the part of property owners, managers, or occupiers.
However, property owners and others often try to shift liability for accidents by displaying warning or disclaimer signs on their land or in their buildings. These signs usually say something to the effect of “Not responsible for accidents or injuries” or “Enter at your own risk.”
Are those warning signs really effective? In most cases, they aren’t.
Just because a property owner puts up a warning sign doesn’t mean that they’re off the hook for any injuries sustained by people who are hurt on their land or in their building. If you’ve been injured due to a fall or some other incident on someone else’s property, it’s important to speak to a premises liability lawyer as soon as possible.
At the law offices of Derek L. Hall, our legal team can examine your case and determine who might be liable for your injuries. We can also gather the evidence needed to prove your claim and fight for the compensation you deserve.
Our law practice has more than 20 years of experience handling a wide range of legal claims like those involving falls and other types of premises liability. We’ve helped our clients recover millions of dollars in compensation.
For your free case review, call us or visit our contact page now.
Is a Warning Sign Required?
Warning signs are not always required on someone’s property, but they are required in certain situations. Cities, states, and the federal government sometimes require warning signs for certain kinds of properties, especially if there’s some kind of potentially dangerous activity happening on the property. For example, many cities and states require swimming pools to display signs that warn children and their parents about the potential dangers involved in using a public pool.
Warning signs are also required in areas where there are potential hazards that could harm visitors or guests to a property. This goes back to the duty of care that property owners and managers have to tenants, guests, and others who visit or use their land. For instance, if a staircase breaks in someone’s store, the store owner has a legal obligation to repair the staircase and to warn visitors of the possible danger from using the stairs while the repairs are underway.
If there is a need for a warning sign and a property owner or manager does not put one up, then they may be liable for any injuries sustained by people injured on the property.
Does a Warning Sign Prevent a Victim from Seeking Compensation?
A warning sign could play some role in determining liability for an accident on a property, but it’s not an automatic guarantee that the property owner is not liable. Whether or not there was a warning sign about any hazards on the property is only one factor in determining liability for premises liability claims.
These claims are based on the legal doctrine of negligence, which states that property owners and managers must exercise reasonable care to protect the safety of those who visit their property. There are four components that a plaintiff (the person or entity filing a lawsuit) must prove when filing a claim against a property owner. Those components are:
- The defendant (the person or entity the lawsuit is filed against) either owned or controlled the property on which the plaintiff’s injuries occurred.
- A hazardous condition existed on the property, such as broken stairs, for example.
- The plaintiff sustained some kind of injury or loss on the premises.
- The hazardous condition on the premises led to the plaintiff’s injuries, plus the plaintiff must provide proof of their injuries and how they’re related to the hazardous condition on the property.
Determining fault in a premises liability claim doesn’t begin and end with warning signs. If a plaintiff can show that a property owner did not meet the standard of care required of them by the law, they can be held liable for compensation – regardless of whether there were any warning signs on the property.
When Can Warning Signs Be Ineffective?
Warning signs must meet certain standards if they’re to be considered effective, and by extension, count as grounds to shift liability away from a property owner. In some cases, these standards are explicitly laid out by state and local laws.
There are a few general guidelines that warning signs must meet in order to be considered effective:
- The text on the sign must be large enough for people to read at a distance.
- The sign must be placed in a spot where it’s clearly visible.
- People must be able to see the sign before they encounter the hazard on the property.
- The text of the sign must be in a language that the majority of the people who see it can understand.
If a warning sign does not meet these guidelines — for example, if the sign is in English in an area where most people speak Spanish or if the sign is obscured by a tree — then it likely won’t be considered to be effective. If a sign is not effective, it will likely not shield the property owner from liability for injuries sustained on the property.
Contact a Premises Liability Lawyer at Derek L. Hall, PC
If you’ve been hurt due to a property owner’s negligence, you need to speak to a premises liability lawyer right away. Mississippi law states that you only have three years from the date of your injury to file a claim for damages in personal injury cases. It takes a while to gather all the evidence you’ll need to prove your claim. If you take too long to file your claim, then you’ll miss out on any opportunity to collect compensation for your injuries.
Contact an experienced premises liability attorney before it’s too late. To get started today, call Derek L. Hall, PC or visit our contact page to schedule your free initial consultation.