Premises Liability

Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

If you’ve been injured at a friend’s home, a local retail store, or in a public park, you may be wondering whether the property owner is responsible for your medical bills and other damages. Often, a property owner will be liable for injuries that occur on their land. But, that depends on a variety of circumstances. The best way to find out whether you might have a premises liability claim is to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer.

What is Premises Liability?

“Premises liability” simply means legal responsibility for something that occurs on your property. However, landowners and occupiers aren’t necessarily responsible for every injury that happens on their land. And, the exact rules for liability differ somewhat from state to state.

The basic requirements for premises liability are:

● The person or entity (such as a business) owns or has control of the property
● They have a duty to maintain the premises in reasonably safe condition or take specific action to protect visitors to the property
● They fail in that duty
● Someone is injured as a result of the owner’s or occupant’s negligence
In many states, the owner’s or occupant’s responsibility is different depending on the reason the injured person was on the property. For instance, in most states, the duty to a trespasser is limited. In some states, everyone who is legally on the property is treated the same. In others, social guests are treated differently than people who are on the property for the owner’s benefit, such as customers in a store.

Slip and Fall Injuries

Slip and fall or trip and fall injuries are among the most common premises liability cases. Of course, not every fall on someone else’s property is the owner’s responsibility. Here’s a common example of when the property owner or occupant might be liable for damages:
Josie walks into her favorite coffee shop in the morning and slips on the tile floor in the entryway and falls backward, hitting her head on the floor. Though the floor looked the same as always, it was actually slippery, as the manager had sent a new employee to mop a few minutes earlier. Normally, the store would have posted a sign warning customers that the floor was wet, but the new employee didn’t know that was part of the process and the manager forgot to tell him.
In most states, the store would have an obligation to ensure that the surface was safe for walking, block it off, or put up a visible warning sign so customers would take extra care walking in that area. Since the coffee shop didn’t do any of those things, it likely breached its duty to Josie, and would likely be held responsible for her injuries.

On the other hand, if the floor was dry and unobstructed and Josie fell in the entryway because the heel on her shoe snapped, the store would typically not be responsible for her injuries, since the premises were maintained in safe condition and their actions (or lack of action) did not cause Josie’s injury.

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Other Types of Premises Liability Cases

Some other types of premises liability claims might include:
● Injuries caused when a fixture or piece of furniture falls on a visitor due to faulty or negligent maintenance
● Injury caused when objects fall and injure a visitor because they have been negligently stacked, unsafely placed on overhead shelves, or otherwise negligently arranged
● Injury caused in a fire that occurs because wiring was faulty, fire exits weren’t clearly marked, escape routes were blocked, or the premises otherwise caused the fire or hindered escape
● Injury caused by a third party due to negligent security, such as someone being attacked in the parking lot of a bar when the owners were aware of the risks and failed to provide adequate lighting in the lot
The common thread is that the owner or occupant of the property had some responsibility to keep the premises safe or protect visitors from harm, they failed to do so, and someone got hurt.

To learn more about your rights after you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, talk to a personal injury attorney today.

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