Premises Liability

Premises liability cases are common cases in many personal injury practices. In fact, it is the fourth leading area of practice for personal injury lawyers, behind motor vehicle crashes, product liability and medical malpractice. Approximately 26% of personal injury plaintiff attorneys accept premises liability cases. They are also amongst the most difficult personal injury cases to win because jurors would prefer to blame the injured person than the premises owner, often providing a defense verdict or a high percentage of comparative negligence even when the client did nothing wrong.

Common types of cases in the field of premises liability include negligent security cases, defective conditions (including code violation cases), inadequate maintenance, elevator and escalator injuries, dog bites, amusement park injuries, as well as slip and fall cases. With falls being the leading cause of death for the elderly, and the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries it is important for companies to minimize the risk to others at their facility.

One of the most common problems for lawyers handling these cases, is that unlike auto cases, the “rules” pertaining to premises cases are not as clear as rules that govern drivers in an auto case. You may need to review a variety of building codes and figure out which one applies to the location.  Other times there are no building code or statutes that apply, and you must look to corporate documents to determine whether the company violated their own standards or industry standards for that type of business. If the defense keeps you in that “grey area,” you will lose. Another major challenge is jury bias, which has increasingly contaminated the American public through support from major corporations (such as insurers, big tobacco and big pharma), tort reform politicians and talk radio. The public has been led to believe that it should blame the injured person rather than the company. 

With such a high loss rate, it is important that plaintiff lawyers handle these cases in a systematic way to ensure they are maximizing their clients' chances in settlement and trial. Trial Guides has created a set of premises liability books and premises liability videos aimed at helping lawyers handling these difficult cases to win for their clients. These premises liability resources will help any lawyer, at any experience level to handle these cases better, increasing your opportunity to win in cases that otherwise would result in a defense verdict.

Top 10 Premises Liability Resources for Lawyers

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Recommended Resources

Premises Liability

A Guide to Success

Author Michael Neff is a nationally known premises liability lawyer who has obtained multiple multi-million dollar verdicts in premises liability cases. With a track record like that, we knew he could teach others about how to successfully handle premises liability cases. But rather than just teaching you how he obtains eight figure verdicts, we asked him to step back and walk readers through how to win in small, medium and large premises cases. This book walks you through important issues in case selection, case investigation, settlement negotiations, discovery, trial preparation, the necessary expert witnesses, and aspects to a premises liability trial that may be different from other types of cases. The book was made for lawyers from all areas of practice – taking those with little or no experience in premises cases and giving them insights about winning a premises case. For those with premises case experience, the book will give you insights on how you can improve your methods to achieve higher outcomes for your clients, and win new types of premises cases.

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Demand Letters

For Auto, Trucking, Premises, Med Mal, and Other Cases

While the majority of this video set discusses auto cases, the reality is that the same bodily injury software used by auto insurers evaluates many of the premises liability cases insured by the major insurers. This DVD gives you the formula for what the insurers are looking for in your cases when determining claim value. It is, in essence, a reverse engineering of the software used by insurers to evaluate claims, giving you insights about how to ethically and honestly maximize your client’s settlement offers based upon their injuries. If you settle most of your premises cases, there is no product more important.

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Rules of the Road™

A Plaintiff Lawyer’s Guide to Proving Liability

Rules of the Road™ is America’s bestselling text on proving liability. Liability is almost always where premises liability cases are fought, with the defense either claiming they aren’t liable at all, or that your client is more than 50% comparatively negligent.

Rules of the Road addresses legal cases where there are not clear “rules” of operation, helping you take a case filled with complexity, confusion, and no set standards for operation of a location, and teaching you how to create “rules” from a variety of industry and company sources with which the defendant and defense experts cannot credibly disagree. This helps demonstrate to the adjustor, defense counsel and jury that the defendant chose to break known and accepted safety rules in your case. Called a “masterpiece” by leading plaintiff lawyers, Rules of the Road™ has helped tens of thousands of lawyers obtain six, seven and eight figure verdicts in difficult factual cases. Rules of the Road™ is the first in a trilogy of “must read” books for any personal injury lawyer at any experience level.

Also available as an audio book.

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David Ball on Damages 3

Widely considered “the bible” of handling plaintiff personal injury cases. David Ball on Damages 3 is the second in the trilogy of “must read” premises liability books for lawyers. David Ball is considered by many to be the leading trial consultant for American plaintiff lawyers. Damages 3 provides specific instructions on how to handle every part of your trial, from voir dire to closing. It is impossible to win a premises liability case without an impartial jury and this book covers jury selection methods in detail. Sample opening and closings are also provided with explanations about why you need to structure your openings and closings in a particular way in order to win. The 3rd (white) edition of this book, contains substantially more information than the prior (red) edition, and is the only place where the concepts of the Rules of the Road™ method is integrated with the Reptile™ method of trying cases.

Also available as an audio book.

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Don't Eat the Bruises

How to Foil Their Plans to Spoil Your Case

Many premises cases are smaller and medium sized cases. The defense often relies upon “common sense” arguments in hopes of connecting with the jurors and avoiding responsibility. But you get to talk to them first. Over three decades of trial practice, Keith Mitnik, lead trial counsel at Morgan & Morgan, has created a number of very effective trial strategies that make perfect sense to an average juror. He collected them in his book “Don’t Eat the Bruises” which has been a hot seller since its release. The book teaches you how to frame issues in voir dire and opening statements so that you can identify problematic jurors and frame the issues of the case before the defense ever stands up. The simple and practical ideas can be easily adopted by any lawyer. The ideas help you talk to jurors in a language that is comfortable for them. For that reason, some of our customers say this is the best trial book ever written. We believe it is particularly effective for premises cases.

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Winning Case Preparation

Understanding Jury Bias

Jury bias can kill a premises liability case, no matter how good the facts and evidence. In the late 1980s, Greg Cusimano and David Wenner started investigating jury bias and how jurors could fabricate excuses for their decision in order to avoid holding the defendant responsible. As a result of their ongoing jury bias research, Cusimano and Wenner created the Jury Bias Model™, helping plaintiff lawyers to better understand all of the unspoken problems that could result in an unexpected defense verdict. In 2005, Cusimano and Wenner joined lawyer David Bossart and trial consultant Edward Lazarus to develop a case preparation method that considers the potential impact of jury bias and other negative factors for a case from intake through trial. This system, used on cases obtaining over $4 billion in verdicts since that time, has been distilled into the book Winning Case Preparation. The book helps you to find or recognize the potential types of jury bias that you face in a case, minimize problems throughout the case, how to identify biased jurors in voir dire, and how you can address known jury bias issues during trial so that you disarm the jurors who will violate their oath to exclude their bias by fighting against the evidence during deliberation. This is particularly important in premises liability cases where you and your client are most likely to lose for improper reasons outside the evidence and law. This book helps you minimize your likelihood of losing and avoid a finding of comparative negligence against your client when it isn’t substantiated by the evidence.

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30(b)(6)

Deposing Corporations, Organizations & the Government

In nearly every premises liability case, your defendant will be a corporation, organization or governmental entity. Often you are taking on a massive entity with far more money and lawyers than your office. This book teaches you what incredible power is available in these cases using FRCP 30(b)(6) and the associated state laws governing corporate and organization depositions. The book takes you step by step through how to designate the areas of inquiry for the designee deposition and forcing the defendant to appoint one or more people to answer on behalf of the organization with all information known to that corporation, organization or entity. Using the knowledge from this book, you will no longer let defendants get away with answers like “I don’t know” because the organization is required to give that deponent all knowledge pertaining to the topics you list. Gone are the days of “the person most knowledgeable,” and evasive answers, because a denial of knowledge by the deponent is a denial of knowledge by the corporation or entity itself. The book goes beyond just the oral deposition and includes tips on document depositions when defense counsel has refused to provide discovery through requests for production or interrogatories. This book is critical to lawyers of any experience handling any type of case against a corporation, organization or governmental entity, and has transformed thousands of lawyers’ discovery practices.

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Changing Laws, Saving Lives

How to Take on Corporate Giants & Win

This book combines a real case story resulting from grossly negligent premises security at a convenience store, with teaching lessons about how to handle premises liability cases. Written by Randi McGinn, one of the nation’s greatest trial lawyers, this book takes you from the premises event through interactions with the family, investigation of the business, lessons on the importance of investigating your case deeply, how to prepare the case for trial, and then tips on how you can both obtain a substantial financial outcome for your clients, but also use your cases to make a positive change for the safety of your community.

This book is a favorite Trial Guides product for many readers, including our editors. We get frequent comments that people stayed up all night reading this book.

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Grief and Loss

Identifying and Proving Damages in Wrongful Death Cases

If your premises case involves a death, there is no better resource for preparing and trying your damages case than Grief & Loss. This book originally came to Trial Guides upon the recommendation of trial consultant David Ball, who suggested it contained important new ways to present damages in wrongful death cases. Written by one of the nation’s leading wrongful death lawyers, Robert Hall, and grief counselor Mila Ruiz Tecala, the book provides a much better understanding about what the family is going through, and will go through as a result of the client’s death. The survivors’ losses are invisible, difficult to quantify, and often incomprehensible. This book instructs you how to communicate those intangible damages to the adjustor, a mediator or a jury. It also discusses differences in the death of a spouse, a parent or a child and how each of these types of cases must be handled differently. Applying the strategies in this book, you can show jurors (and other decision makers) that a family who experiences a death has experienced not one loss, but a network of losses. This book will also teach you how to convey to the jury and decision makers that a death in the family is the death of that family.

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Show the Story

The Power of Visual Advocacy

Show the Story has been a secret weapon for lawyers in several large premises liability verdicts around the country, including eight figure outcomes. In the age of social media and streaming video, visual advocacy has become more important than ever. Show the Story covers both how to maximize the impact of the storytelling aspect of your case, and how to integrate visuals in how you tell the client’s story to your adjustor, arbitrators or jurors. This book takes you step by step through how to prove liability, causation and damages in your premises case in a way that persuades both auditory and visual learners. It instructs how to create visuals on your own, as well as how to work with graphic artists, trial consultants and experts on visuals to perfect your presentation. For an audience with a short attention span and the expectation of visuals similar to what they see in a legal television drama, this book helps you provide compelling visuals that win your case.

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