Hobbs Premises Liability Attorney
In the vibrant community of Hobbs, New Mexico, property owners are expected to maintain the safety and upkeep of their premises. However, when this duty gets overlooked and injures a visitor or passerby, the victim may be entitled to compensation under the state’s premises liability laws. In such instances, New Mexico law ensures that the victim can hold the negligent property owners accountable for the harm caused due to their lack of proper maintenance or oversight.
If you or a loved one has experienced an unfortunate accident on someone else’s property in Hobbs, the dedicated team at the Law Office of W. Shane Jennings is here to assist. Our seasoned Hobbs premises liability lawyers have a track record of successfully representing clients against various entities, including retail giants, governmental bodies, and individual property owners. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation, where we will explain your rights and guide you through the legal process.
What Exactly Is Premises Liability Claim?
Premises liability refers to a legal framework where property owners and certain lessees or occupants can be held responsible for injuries and accidents on their property due to unsafe conditions or hazards. The underlying principle is that property owners, and sometimes occupants who control the property, must ensure their premises are reasonably safe for visitors. The range of premises liability cases can be broad, including but not limited to the following:
- Dog Bites or Animal Attacks – If an animal, particularly a dog, attacks someone on the property, the owner might face liability, especially if the owner knows the dog’s aggressive tendencies.
- Hazardous Conditions – This can include exposed wiring, weak staircases, or falling debris, among other dangerous situations that could lead to injury.
- Negligent or Inadequate Security – Property owners might be liable if someone is attacked or harmed on their property due to a lack of proper security measures, especially in places with a higher expectation of security, like parking garages or apartment complexes.
- Slip and Fall Accidents – This could be the most common type of claim. It occurs when someone slips, trips, or falls because of a dangerous condition on the property, such as wet floors, uneven surfaces, or poor lighting.
- Swimming Pool Accidents – Property owners can be held responsible for injuries sustained in a poorly maintained or inadequately secured swimming pool.
To establish a premises liability claim, the injured party or their Hobbs premises liability attorney typically needs to prove a few key elements:
- The defendant owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property.
- The defendant was negligent in the use or maintenance of the property.
- The plaintiff sustained harm.
- The defendant’s negligence was a factor in causing the harm.
It’s worth noting that not all injuries that occur on someone else’s property will lead to liability. The specifics of the accident, the relationship between the visitor and property owner (invitee, licensee, or trespasser), and the nature of the hazard can all influence the outcome of a premises liability claim. This is why retaining an experienced premises liability lawyer in Hobbs for your case is a good idea.
Understanding Premises Liability Laws in New Mexico
Premises liability laws in New Mexico have unique characteristics compared to other states. One of the most notable aspects of New Mexico’s approach to premises liability is its disregard for the traditional status classifications that are prevalent in many states.
In several jurisdictions across the United States, the duty a property owner owes to an individual on their property often depends on the individual’s status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Each classification corresponds to a different level of care required by the property owner. For instance, invitees (like customers in a store) are generally owed the highest duty of care, while trespassers are owed the least.
New Mexico, on the other hand, stands apart in this regard. The state’s laws are more concerned with the broader principle of whether a property owner acted reasonably and took the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their property. Rather than relying on traditional status classifications, New Mexico courts consider whether the property’s owner or occupier was negligent in light of the events surrounding the injury. To make a successful premises liability claim in New Mexico, a Hobbs premises liability attorney generally needs to prove the following:
- The defendant owned, controlled, or occupied the property.
- A hazardous or unsafe condition existed on the property.
- The defendant knew or should reasonably have known about the hazard.
- The defendant’s negligence in addressing the hazard or warning about it led to the injury.
- The plaintiff suffered damages as a result.
It’s also crucial to understand that New Mexico follows the doctrine of “comparative negligence.” This means that if a person sustains injuries on another’s property, any fault or negligence may cause the court to reduce the compensation they receive proportionally. For example, if the court finds a person to be 30% at fault for their injuries, they may reduce their compensation by 30%.
How Comparative Fault Works
As an experienced Hobbs premises liability attorney, Shane Jennings knows that New Mexico operates under the principle of “pure comparative negligence.” This system allows an injured party to recover damages even if they are partially or mostly at fault for their injuries. However, the court will reduce the total amount they can recover by the percentage they’re found to be at fault.
This approach ensures that individuals in Lea County receive compensation in proportion to the degree of negligence demonstrated by the other party while also taking their role in the accident or injury into account. It enables a more in-depth evaluation of each party’s role in the incident.
Example 1 – Slip and Fall at a Grocery Store
Imagine you’re in a grocery store and slip on a spilled liquid. However, there were warning signs indicating the wet floor, but you were distracted by your phone and didn’t notice them. If you decide to sue the store for your injuries, the court might find that while the store was negligent in not cleaning up the spill promptly, you were also negligent in not paying attention to your surroundings.
Let’s say the jury awards you $100,000 in damages but finds you 40% at fault for the accident because you weren’t paying attention. Under New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence system, your compensation would get reduced by 40%, meaning you would receive $60,000.
Example 2 – Injury at a Playground
Suppose a parent takes their child to a playground and gets injured on a broken swing. If the parent noticed the swing had damage but still let their child use it, the park’s maintenance and the parent could share the fault. If the court calculates the damages at $50,000 but finds the parent to be 20% at fault for not prohibiting their child from using the damaged swing, the compensation would get reduced to $40,000.
The critical takeaway from New Mexico’s pure comparative negligence system is that plaintiffs can still recover damages even if they are primarily at fault. However, their level of responsibility directly impacts the amount they receive. This system ensures that parties get held accountable to the extent of their negligence, allowing for a more balanced approach to awarding damages.
How a Property Owner May Try to Avoid Liability
In New Mexico, when an unfortunate accident happens on a property, the property owners, businesses, or their Hobbs premises liability lawyers often leap into action to ensure they’re not held responsible. After all, no one wants to be on the receiving end of a lawsuit. But who are these defendants, and what kind of defenses might they use?
Defendants in New Mexico Premises Liability Cases
- Apartment buildings
- Beauty salons
- Big box stores like Target, Lowe’s, and Walmart
- Day care centers
- Grocery stores
- Homes containing hazardous conditions
- Movie theaters
- Nursing homes
- Parking lots
- Private residences
- Shopping malls
- Swimming pools
- Vacation rentals
Common Defenses Used by Property Owners
There are several common defenses our premises liability attorneys in Hobbs see when it comes to these types of cases, and they include but are not limited to the following:
Lack of Knowledge
A frequent defense is a claim that the owner was unaware of the hazard. While in some states, actual knowledge of a hazard is not required, in others, the idea of “constructive knowledge” comes into play. This means if it seems like a reasonably attentive owner should’ve known about a hazard, the court might assume they did. Some property owners might counter this by stating they regularly check the property for dangers. However, if they can’t prove they followed their inspection routine, this defense might not stand.
- Example: Imagine a grocery store that claims they inspect their aisles every hour. But if someone slips on a spill that’s been there for 3 hours, the store’s “hourly check” defense might not hold water.
Plaintiff’s Own Negligence
Another popular defense is suggesting the injured party played a role in the accident. Some states have strict rules around this: if the injured party is even slightly at fault, they might not receive compensation. Property owners often argue that the individual was partly (or wholly) responsible for their mishap.
In essence, while property owners in New Mexico must keep their spaces safe, they also have a range of defenses they might employ if something goes wrong. Understanding these defenses can be crucial if you ever find yourself in such a situation. Always consult a skilled premises liability lawyer in Hobbs to navigate these intricate waters.
What Are Some Types of Premises Liability Claims?
Individuals rightfully anticipate a safe environment when they enter someone’s property in New Mexico, be it a private residence, a business, or a public space. However, there are instances where unsafe or defective conditions result in injuries. Here’s a quick rundown of some premises liability claims you might come across:
- Dog bites
- Equipment failures
- Falling objects
- Hotel injuries
- Inadequate maintenance
- Inadequate security
- Sexual assaults
- Slip and fall accidents
- Snow and ice accidents
- Swimming pool accidents
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
Understanding Defective Property Conditions in New Mexico
Defective property conditions can pose significant dangers. These defects range from icy floors and uneven sidewalks to defective equipment. If you sustain injuries due to any such situations, it’s vital to determine if the property owner was aware, or should’ve been aware, of the defect but didn’t address it.
The Open and Obvious Defense in New Mexico
While property owners should ensure safe conditions, not every hazard leads to liability. If a defect is “open and obvious” – meaning an average person could easily spot it – it can be a defense for property owners. However, New Mexico’s comparative negligence laws mean that even if you partly contributed to your accident, you might still receive some compensation. Always consult a Hobbs premises liability attorney in such scenarios.
Hobbs, New Mexico
Hobbs, New Mexico, is a thriving city known for its cultural diversity and rich history. Hobbs has grown significantly as a vital hub for the state’s energy and oil production. The community’s commitment to progress can be seen through financial developments and its offering of first-rate health and medical services. For those unfortunate enough to experience injuries or health concerns in Hobbs, there are several dedicated facilities ready to offer support:
- Hobbs Hospital – A trusted institution inside the Providence network, Hobbs Hospital delivers comprehensive medical care and is equipped to handle a variety of health emergencies and routine check-ups.
- Hobbs Medical Clinic – Specializing in primary care, this clinic is at the forefront of preventive and remedial medical services. Whether it’s routine physical or specialized attention, the professionals at Hobbs Medical Clinic are ready to help.
- Lea Regional Medical Center – Renowned for its commitment to top-quality healthcare, Lea Regional Medical Center is a cornerstone of the community, offering many services and treatments.
- Revival Physical Therapy – For those on the journey to physical recovery, Revival Physical Therapy provides a sanctuary. The skilled therapists here are dedicated to guiding patients back to optimal physical health through specialized treatments and compassionate care.
The Law Offices of W. Shane Jennings
At the heart of The Law Offices of W. Shane Jennings lies a commitment to justice and a passion for serving the community. With vast experience spanning various areas of law, Hobbs premises liability lawyer W. Shane Jennings has solidified his reputation as a trusted legal ally for residents in need.
Whether confronting a complex legal challenge or seeking guidance on a minor issue, you can confidently turn to Shane for compassionate counsel and dedicated representation. With a deep understanding of the legal landscape and a genuine concern for his clients’ well-being, he exemplifies the integrity and professionalism everyone deserves in their legal advocate.