Like other personal injury cases, Kansas City premises liability claims hinge on the legal theory of negligence. To be successful, you must establish that the property owner or manager was negligent in maintaining a reasonably safe environment.
Elements of Negligence
Accidents do happen, but there are certain types of hazards on properties that a reasonable owner should be aware of. To prove that an owner knew of or should have known of a dangerous condition and failed to fix it requires establishing the following four elements of negligence:
Duty of Care
The owner owed you a duty of care to keep the premises reasonably safe. (As long as you were legally allowed on the property)
Breach of Duty
The property owner knew of an existing hazard or should have known and did not attempt to fix the issue or warn visitors.
The hazardous condition directly caused your injury.
You suffered financial or personal losses. (e.g., medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.)
Your Status on the Property
A property owner’s level of responsibility regarding keeping their premises “reasonably safe” is primarily based on the status of those who enter the property. There are three main categories of status a person can have:
- Invitees: Individuals who have the owner’s consent to be on their property, typically for a business transaction— for example, a customer at a retail establishment. An invitee is owed the highest level of care under the law, which means the owner must keep the premises reasonably free of dangers. That involves:
- Regularly inspecting the property to discover potentially dangerous conditions of which the owner/occupier does not have actual knowledge; and,
- Taking reasonable precautions to protect invitees from foreseeable dangers (e.g., properly maintaining the grounds, blocking off dangerous areas, posting warning signs of any hazards, etc.)
- Licensees: Social guests who are allowed on another person’s property with the owner’s actual or implied consent. Licensees are typically family members, friends, or an individual who needs to inspect the property. The property owner’s duty of care towards licensees is lower. However, they must still take measures to correct any known safety issues and warn of potentially dangerous conditions.
- Trespassers: Someone who illegally enters or remains on a property after being asked to leave. Property owners owe trespassers the lowest level of care. They are typically not liable for an injury to a trespasser unless it is a minor child who wandered onto the grounds.
Modified Comparative Negligence in Kansas
Premises liability cases can be challenging to prove, and the property owner may argue your negligence contributed to the accident as well. Kansas follows a modified comparative negligence law, which means your percentage of fault will reduce your compensation, and you must be less than 50% responsible for you to recover compensation. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 and found 49% at fault, you will receive 51% of your award or $51,000. However, if you are 50% responsible, you will not receive anything.