Premises Law

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What is Premises Law?

Premises law governs a property owner’s duty to ensure that their premises are safe and do not contain any dangerous conditions.  This is usually referred to as “premises liability” law, and may cover owners of either residential premises or commercial premises.  The duties of a property owner will differ depending on whether they own residential or commercial premises. 

Generally speaking, the owner of commercial premises usually has a higher duty to maintain safe conditions than does the owner of a residential plot of land.  Also, duties may change depending on whether the visitor is there for business or personal reasons (business visitors are usually owed a higher duty of care than personal visitors).  Trespassers are owed a very low duty of care to ensure that the premises are safe. 

These types of legal distinctions and differences often depend highly on differences in state or local premises laws. 

What are Some Common Lawsuits Filed Under Premises Law?

One of the more common lawsuits filed under premises law is a slip and fall claim.  This is a common type of claim for businesses such as grocery stores or food outlets, where the floors are slippery and need constant attention.   

Another common lawsuit is where there are dangerous structures that cause injury to a visitor on the premises.  This is a broad category and can include various dangers such as loose stairs, dangerous overhanging objects, or protrusions in the floor.  Lawsuits can also be filed if the building itself is dangerous (i.e., not just with structures within the building).  Dangerous building lawsuits may also involve other issues such as zoning or property use.  

What are the Legal Remedies for a Premises Law Violation?

Premises liability suits usually involve some sort of physical injury to a visitor on the premises. As such, a typical legal remedy for a premises law violation is a monetary damages award to reimburse for medical expenses and other costs. 

Another type of remedy would involve the requirement that the owner of the premises fix the dangerous conditions or otherwise change their property to make it safe.  This could include various repair requirements, or more major changes to the property (such as adding a wheelchair ramp or other renovations).   

Various defenses to premises liability also exist in certain situations.  One of these is where the plaintiff is found to be trespassing on the property, which would then relieve the defendant of certain duties to make the property safe. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With a Premises Law Case?

If you have any questions or disputes involving a premises law violation, you may wish to hire a lawyer.  Your lawyer will be able to assist you your legal issues, and can also help you when it comes to filing a claim with the court.  Your attorney can also be on hand to guide you during the actual court process. 

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Last Modified: 06-29-2015 05:11 PM PDT

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