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Legal Aids

3 common mistakes that could get you slapped with a Law Suits

There are common mistakes that we ignore in our day to day lives that could get us sued. This article will touch a few of these mistakes and show how to how to avoid them.

1.  Occupiers liability

This refers the duty of care of Occupiers of property to their visitors. Accidents that occur within such premises can evoke a law suit.

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Occupiers as a term is not restricted to land owners or landlords, tenants are also involved. An example of Occupiers liability is where there exists a big hole in the compound which has not been covered or sealed off entirely and could cause grievous bodily harm or even death.

It is important to note that, in a situation where only tenants reside in an estate and a ditch Develops at the front of the compound and landlord’s had the sole duty of having it fixed. In this case, the landlord and his tenants are all liable for damages.
Also, in situations where an independent contractor refuses to take care with his property and someone is injured, the same rule applies. For example, an amusement park refuses to service their rides and children are injured on these rides, their parents may sue for Negligence on the part of the contractors.

There are exceptions however to this general rule;

A.  Volenti non fit injuria: This simply means that a man cannot sue when he knew the risks and went ahead. An occupier will not be liable for damage done to a visitor who was fully aware of the risks before venturing into the premises.

For example, where there is a sign outside a gate saying “beware of dogs” common sense should inform anybody hoping to enter into the premises that he is taking the risk on his own.

The proper thing to do would be to inform and occupier of the estate to take him inside, trespassing will not be considered by the court.

Also take for example, entering a construction site, uninvited, without the safety gears and eventually falling into the sewage dump.

The person cannot claim that the occupier didn’t exercise his duty of care, because he entered knowing fully well the risk.

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B. Contributory Negligence: in a situation where the injury was also caused due to the Negligence of the visitor, the court will reduce the amount in damages.

For example, overlooking signs which indicate that there is a ditch ahead and falling into it or diving in the shallow part of a pool even the signs warning against it.
C. Trespassing: a person who enters into a premises uninvited is a trespasser. Trespassers do not enjoy this grace and cannot sue if they were not invited into the premises. To avoid finding yourself in an awkward situation, stay in your house or ask for permission before entering a premises.


2.  Negligence

This is the failure to act or omission to exercise a duty of care which a reasonable man should exercise. Negligence is very common and has a broad range of occupation that it cuts across.

From medical Negligence to Negligence of manufacturers to exercise a duty of care. You must have heard of stories where doctors forgot items in patients bodies during and operation or heard of people who found a cockroach in their coke.

There are 4 elements which must be present before a person can prove Negligence, they are;

a.  Duty of care: the injured person must prove that he was owed a Legal duty of care by the defendant.

b.  Breach of duty of care: he must also show that the duty of care was breached either by action or inaction of the defendant.

c.  Cause of injury : he must also prove that the injury resulted from the breach of that duty.

d. Damages: This involves proof that the claimant has suffered a grave injury as a result of this breach.


3. Defamation

Even though all human beings are granted freedom of speech, this does not extend to Defamation. It is unlawful to make statements about a person to ridicule him for the society, make people avoid him or discredit his profession. This act could be written or oral and are;


a. Libel:

This is Defamation in written or printed form and could include, newspapers, electronic devices, memory cards, pictures, television, radio, social media or text messages. Libel is easier to establish because it is written unlike slander.

b. Slander : This is Defamation by word of mouth and cannot be proven except the words imply that the defamed party committed a crime, has a sexually transmitted disease, is adulterous and words that can affect the business reputation of the claimant.
To prove both slander and libel, there are some laid down rules which must be followed, they are;
1 The words must have been defamatory
2 The words must specifically refer to the claimant
3 The words must have been published
4 The character of the claimant must not be spotless before he can sue for Defamation
5 The defamatory words must be stated verbatim or word for word in court
6 The claimant has the duty to prove that his name has been indeed defamed.

Note that companies and corporate bodies can also be defamed, it is not restricted to individuals alone. If the words can affect their productivity and output and the perception of their company to clients, they can sue and be awarded damages.

For example, there was a time when Always sanitary towels were defamed as having HIV virus in them and indomie was said to have killed a family in Lagos.

These words are capable of bringing the company down as people will not want to patronize their brand. Such acts are mostly spread by competitors who are too lazy to meet up with the market demands.

It is better to be safe than sorry, ensure that safety measures are in place in your property, it doesn’t matter if it’s your house or a rented one, injury of another person may put you in serious debt.

I’ve seen a little boy who was hurt by a broken burglary proof and almost lost his eyes. While working in places where we deliver services to human beings, utmost care must be given to ensure that we do not hurt another human being due to our Negligence.


Read Also: 6 Things You Should Consider Before Going to Court


We should also ensure that we do all things diligently and control our speech so as to avoid being slapped with a law suit.

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Bar. Princess Ogono

Bar. Princess Ogono is a Legal Practitioner and Content Developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Roberts. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Roberts. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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