Falls, Dog Bites & Other Injury on Property Cases

Santa Fe Premises Liability Attorneys

Premises liability is a legal concept in which property owners are held responsible for injuries sustained by individuals on their property due to a negligent failure to remedy unsafe conditions.

Property owners must consistently maintain a safe environment, promptly address hazards, and take precautions to prevent harm to individuals, regardless of their purpose for being on the property. Property owners owe a duty of care to visitors to do all that is reasonable to keep them safe, and if they fail to maintain a safe environment, free of dangers, they may be held liable for injuries that occur as a result.

Recognizing Dangerous Conditions

In New Mexico, understanding what constitutes a “dangerous condition” is crucial for those seeking to establish liability in premises liability cases. Dangerous conditions on property can result from each of the following:

1. Inadequate Maintenance:

Property owners have a responsibility to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe condition. Dangerous conditions may arise from poor maintenance, including broken handrails, uneven walkways, or poorly lit areas.

2. Slippery Surfaces:

Slip and fall incidents often occur due to slippery surfaces, such as wet floors or icy sidewalks. Property owners must take reasonable measures to address these conditions promptly, such as posting warning signs or addressing the hazard.

3. Inadequate Security:

Dangerous conditions can also include inadequate security measures, leading to incidents like assaults or thefts. Property owners should assess the need for security measures, such as security guards to patrol, adequate lighting, and surveillance, to protect visitors from foreseeable harm.

4. Defective Conditions:

Premises liability may arise from defects in the property itself, such as broken stairs, uneven flooring, or structural issues. Property owners should address these defects promptly to prevent accidents.

Slip and Fall vs. Trip and Fall

A slip and fall accident occurs when an individual loses their footing due to a slippery or hazardous surface, resulting in injury. In premises liability cases, property owners may be held responsible if they fail to address or warn about slippery conditions that lead to a slip and fall incident. A trip and fall incident involves an individual tripping over an object or uneven surface, resulting in injury. Property owners can be held liable if they fail to address or warn about hazards that contribute to a trip and fall, such as uneven sidewalks, debris, or obstacles in walkways.

The Duty of Care for Property Owners in New Mexico

The duty of care that property owners owe to individuals who enter their premises is a fundamental aspect of premises liability law. In many states, property owners are tasked with different levels of duty of care depending on whether an individual is classified as an invitee (someone on the property for the owner’s benefit) or a licensee (someone on the property for their own purposes with the owner’s permission). In New Mexico, however, this duty is characterized by a unified approach that does not distinguish between invitees and licensees. A distinct duty of care continues to exist concerning trespassers. 

  • Unified Reasonable Care Standard for Visitors

New Mexico property owners are required to exercise reasonable care to maintain their premises in a safe condition for anyone entering the property with permission, whether for the owner’s benefit (invitee) or the visitor’s own purposes (licensee). This includes the duty to inspect the property for potential hazards and provide warnings when reasonably necessary.

  • Duty of Care Regarding Trespassers

While New Mexico adopts a unified approach for invitees and licensees, collectively called “visitors,” a different standard applies to trespassers. An owner or occupant of land has no liability to a trespasser injured on his land from a natural condition of that land. See Uniform Jury Instruction (UJI) 13-1307 NMRA. However, if the owner or occupant creates or maintains an artificial condition on the land, then she has a duty to a trespasser to use ordinary care to warn of the condition and of the risk involved if:

(a) the condition involves an unreasonable risk of death or bodily harm to persons coming onto the land;

(b) the owner/occupant knows or reasonably should know that there are constant intrusions by persons in the dangerous area or that there are persons on the land in dangerous proximity to the condition; and

(c) the owner/occupant has reason to believe that the trespasser will not discover the condition or realize the risk involved.

Further, if the property owner or occupant is engaged in activities on her land, she has a duty to use ordinary care to avoid injury to a trespasser if the activity involves an unreasonable risk of death or great bodily harm to persons coming onto the land, there are constant intrusions by trespassers onto the area in which the activity is permitted or there are trespassers on the land in dangerous proximity to the activity, and the owner or occupant has reason to believe that the trespasser will not realize the risk of harm involved.

The owner or occupant of the property owes no duty to make his land safe for a trespasser, unless and until he knows or reasonably should know that the trespasser is on his land. UJI 13-1305 NMRA. 

  • Liability to Trespassers for Willful or Reckless Conduct

  • Property owners must refrain from engaging in willful or reckless conduct that could cause harm to trespassers.

  • Intentional creation of traps or hazards with the intent to injure trespassers is strictly prohibited.

  • Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

New Mexico recognizes the attractive nuisance doctrine, emphasizing the duty of care owed to children who may be drawn to dangerous conditions on the property. Property owners are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent harm to children attracted to potentially dangerous features like swimming pools, abandoned structures, or other enticing elements on the property, even if they lacked knowledge of children were coming onto the property.

Comparative Fault

In premises liability cases, comparative fault is a legal principle that addresses situations where both the injured party and the property owner may share some degree of responsibility for the accident or injuries. This concept recognizes that liability may not always rest solely on one party, and the degree of fault can be apportioned between them. Comparative fault acknowledges that both the injured party and the property owner may have contributed to the incident. It allows for a more nuanced assessment of liability, considering the actions or negligence of both parties involved. 

New Mexico follows a “pure comparative fault” system. In a pure comparative fault system, the injured party can recover damages even if they are mostly at fault, but the damages are proportionately reduced. The degree of fault is typically expressed as a percentage, representing the proportion of responsibility for the accident. The degree of fault assigned to the injured party impacts the damages they are entitled to recover. The total compensation is reduced by the percentage of the injured party’s contributory fault. For example, if the injured party is found to be 20% at fault, their damages will be reduced by that percentage. 

In premises liability cases, comparative fault may be considered when evaluating incidents such as slip and falls or trip and falls. For example:

  • If a visitor on a property fails to heed warning signs or engages in risky behavior that contributes to an accident, they may be assigned a percentage of fault.
  • On the property owner’s side, if there are hazardous conditions that the owner failed to address or warn about, they may be assigned a percentage of fault for neglecting their duty to maintain a safe environment.

New Mexico Public School Negligence

Under the New Mexico Tort Claims Act, injured students are restricted from pursuing negligent supervision claims against public schools. Instead, the law necessitates proof of a school-wide dangerous condition that posed a threat to all students, making it challenging for individual students to bring negligence claims solely based on inadequate supervision. This legal framework places a higher burden of proof on students seeking damages for injuries, emphasizing systemic issues rather than isolated incidents of negligent supervision.

What to Do After a Slip and Fall or Trip and Fall Accident

To establish a premises liability case, the injured party must demonstrate that the property owner was negligent in maintaining safe conditions, and this negligence directly led to the injury. In the event of an injury due to a dangerous condition on property of another, prompt reporting and documentation are crucial. Seek medical attention immediately, document the scene and gather witness statements if possible.

🌟 Injured Due to a Dangerous Premises? Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP Can Help! 🌟

Have you suffered injuries due to hazardous conditions on someone else’s property? At Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP, we are your trusted premises liability attorneys, dedicated to securing the compensation you rightfully deserve. Our experienced team specializes in cases involving slip and fall or trip and fall incidents, ensuring that justice is served for those injured on unsafe premises.

Why Choose Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP for Premises Liability:

Proven Expertise: With a wealth of experience in premises liability law, our attorneys at Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP have successfully navigated cases involving a variety of dangerous conditions on properties. We understand the complexities of these cases and know how to build a strong legal strategy for optimal outcomes.

Comprehensive Representation: Whether you’ve experienced a slip and fall, trip and fall, or other injuries on someone else’s property, our team is well-equipped to handle a range of premises liability cases. We provide comprehensive legal representation tailored to the specifics of your situation.

Diligent Investigation: Our attorneys conduct thorough investigations to establish liability and determine the negligent party responsible for the dangerous conditions. We leave no stone unturned in building a compelling case on your behalf.

Premises Liability Cases We Handle:

👉 Slip and Fall Accidents: If you have slipped and fallen due to negligent maintenance or hazardous conditions on a property, we will fight to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

👉 Trip and Fall Incidents: Tripping hazards can lead to serious injuries. We specialize in cases where negligent property owners fail to address or warn about dangerous conditions that result in trip and fall incidents.

👉 Inadequate Security Claims: In cases involving assaults, shootings, or injuries due to inadequate security on a property, we work to hold property owners accountable for their negligence.

👉 Attractive Nuisance: An attractive nuisance case involves a legal claim where a property owner may be held liable for injuries to children who are enticed by potentially dangerous conditions or structures on the property, even if the children were trespassing. We work hard to get justice for those whose children have been hurt by the negligence of property owners.

👉 Public School Negligence: A public school negligence case involves legal action against a public school or its personnel for alleged failures or negligent actions that resulted in harm, injury, or damages to students, encompassing issues such as inadequate supervision, unsafe facilities, or negligent conduct by school staff. We ensure that public school negligence claims do not get dismissed or denied for failure of proof of a systemic dangerous condition affecting all students of the school.

Your Right to Compensation:

At Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP, we believe in protecting the rights of those injured due to the negligence of property owners. You shouldn’t bear the burden of medical expenses and lost wages alone. Let us advocate for you and seek the compensation you deserve.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation:

If you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, don’t wait. Contact Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our premises liability attorneys are ready to assess your case, provide expert advice, and fight for the compensation you deserve. Call us today at [Your Contact Information].

Prince, Schmidt, Baca & Woods, LLP – Advocates for Justice in Premises Liability Cases.

New Mexico Dog Bite Law and Insurance Coverage for Dog Bite Injuries

In New Mexico, a dog owner may be held strictly liable or may have simply been negligent, depending on the specifics, and your insurance may cover the judgment. Get more information here.

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