Premises Liability:You Have A Right To Your Personal Safety
If you were severely injured on someone else’s property, you may need to seek compensation through a personal injury claim. Premises liability law governs responsibility for the ownership and maintenance of property, and commercial or residential structures. It holds landowners and lessees liable for injuries resulting from dangerous conditions that cause slip-and-fall and trip-and-fall accidents, among others, suffered by those who are on the premises.
Property owners must eliminate hazards or warn visitors of foreseeable dangers. Common hazards include:
- Slippery floors
- Dark stairwells
- Dangerous animals (e.g. dog bites)
- Hidden dangers
Not All Cases Qualify For Damages
Not everyone injured on another person’s property can sue for damages. The ability to sue depends on how the law classifies the individual’s relationship to the property and its owner:
- Invitees. The highest duty is owed when a landowner invites someone onto the property. When a visitor enters the premises for the benefit of the owner, such as a customer going into a store, the landowner has a duty to make the area safe. The owner of the property is held to the standard of what a reasonable person would do to keep invitees safe from harm. For example, a restaurant owner is expected to quickly clean up spills to prevent slip-and-fall accidents.
- Licensees. Property owners have no duty to inspect their premises for defects that might injure a social guest, but they do have the duty to warn of known hazards that might harm the person. For example, a homeowner has a duty to prevent dog bites by locking up an animal with a history of nipping guests.
- Trespassers. The property owner owes no duty to an undiscovered trespasser but if the owner is aware of a trespasser, that person must be warned of known hazards that might cause injury.
- Child trespassers. A landowner also has a duty of reasonable care regarding developed areas of a property where a child who does not understand the risks could be injured. For example, homeowners are required to put fences around their swimming pools so children are less likely to gain access and drown.