In Missouri, premises liability refers to the legal liability imposed on property owners for allowing an unreasonably dangerous condition to exist on the property which results in personal injury. Under Missouri injury law, business property owners owe a higher legal standard of care than private property owners. In Missouri commercial or business property owners have a duty to make the property safe and to reasonable inspect the property to make sure there are no hidden defects that could be dangerous. In Missouri, private property owners are only liable for dangerous conditions they know about or should have known about.
A victim of such a defective condition and resultant injury hired me as her Missouri personal injury lawyer and we recently settled her slip and fall case resulting from a Missouri personal injury incident occurring on 6/30/2004. My client was a business invitee at a gas station in Sullivan Missouri, she was caused to slip and fall due to an unreasonably dangerous condition, under Missouri injury law, on the gas station's property, specifically standing water in the bathroom. The bathroom was within the exclusive control of the gas station owner and it was held open to the public for business invitee access. Therefore, the gas station owed my client the highest degree of care under Missouri law to keep the bathroom in a safe condition and to regularly inspect it to guarantee invitees’ safety.
When my client entered the bathroom she immediately slipped and fell, noticing that not only were her pants wet from the fall but there was standing water that she slipped in, the bathroom was very dirty, and there was indication of a lot of foot traffic through the bathroom. This indicates that the bathroom had not been maintained for several hours. This fact was admitted later in discovery after we filed a Missouri personal injury lawsuit in Franklin County, Missouri.
The gas station owner failed to reasonably inspect the bathroom as they admitted they did not regularly clean the bathroom and there was evidence that the water was from a known leak under the sink. The insurance company would only offer $12,000 to settle the case until after we filed a Missouri personal injury lawsuit and pushed the case towards a trial, the insurance company settled for $41,000.
My client incurred a serious personal injury to her ankle requiring a little less than $10,000 in medical treatment. Initially the insurance company would not offer any more than $8,000 stating my client should have watched where she was walking and that the fall was her own fault. Upon filing the Missouri personal injury claim the offer increased to $12,000. Still way too little, the bathroom was a dark, dirty bathroom, with a known water leak in it, clearly, the business owner was liable. There was no rug, warning sign, or repair done to protect the public from the slippery condition created by the known water leak.