Understanding Premises Liability

premises liability caution sign

Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure that their property is maintained to avoid causing injuries to visitors. This concept is called premises liability and can be more formally defined as the duty of a property or land owner to maintain the property by keeping the premises in safe conditions, taking steps to correct defects or hazards and warn people of any latent or other hazards on the property. 

Premises liability can be a broad and confusing topic, so to better understand the concept here is an easy example: After a rainy afternoon, patrons of a shop trek in with wet boots, leaving the floor wet and slippery. It is the duty of the shop owner to place a sign on the wet floor, warning patrons it is slippery. Failure to do so would result in the property owner failing to meet their legal obligation. Any person who was injured as a result could file a legal claim. The shop owner has an obligation to provide a safe environment for patrons or warn them of any hazards. In this instance, the shop owner failed to do so and therefore did not meet the legal requirements outlined by these laws.

Most premises liability claims are based on negligence, meaning that a property owner failed to properly maintain their property. Some basic aspects of their property that must be maintained include: flooring, elevators, railings and structural features. When the maintenance of these aspects are neglected, that is typically when accidents occur. Examples of negligence of property are things like slippery floors, uneven flooring and improper snow removal. As you can imagine, the most common accident resulting from property negligence are slip and falls.

People who are injured due to the negligence of a property owner, should consult a lawyer who is familiar with the laws of negligence and premises liability. Injuries in these kinds of cases can be devastating and often are worse than those sustained in automobile accidents. Therefore, it is important to seek legal counsel immediately. Premises liability laws are in place to ensure that property owners can be held accountable when their negligence causes others to suffer otherwise avoidable harm.

Lawyers that are experienced in these cases have the resources to do an investigation of the property, determine who was at fault and file a claim on your behalf. They also may be able to negotiate with the property owner to come to an appropriate settlement.