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What Is Premises Liability?
Premise liability is an area of personal injury law that makes a person in possession or control of property responsible for certain injuries sustained by other persons while they are on the property. Put simply, the owner of the property owes a certain duty of care to certain classes of people who enter the property. When that duty is breached or, in some instances, if an injury is simply foreseeable, the owner may be liable.
The liability of the landowner will vary based on several factors. Mainly, the type of guest, the category of the property, and the situation that caused the injury will play a huge role in premise liability cases.
Type of Guest
How a person entering the property is classified will dictate the duty a property owner owes to them. Many states have a blanket rule that regardless of how a person is categorized, they are owed a duty of care. In other states, guests are classified by the following three general categories:
- Invitee: These people have permission to enter the property, and include people like friends and relatives.
- Licensee: These people have permission to enter the property for a particular reason, and include business guests and the like.
- Trespasser: This is someone who has no permission to enter the property.
Under a traditional approach, each category of person is owed a unique duty of care, with trespassers typically falling by the wayside and only being extended a protection against reckless or intentional harm.
Category of Property
The specific liability of a piece of property will vary by state. Here are some general categories of property and an example of the duty their owner may owe:
- Homes: A homeowner has the duty to make their property safe for visitors, or in some states invitees and licensees. Clearly, a homeowner must not create risk of injury, and has a duty to repair known hazards, such as slippery floors, decaying railings, and crooked stairs.
- Stores: A storeowner has the duty to keep the property in a reasonable state of repair, and to inspect for potential hazards. Thus, the store should always be structurally sound, and doors, windows, aisles, and other fixtures should be maintained and free of potential dangers.
- Land: A landowner has a duty to keep the land safe. This typically means it is safe for the land’s intended use. Thus, a ski resort must be maintained and kept safe as a ski resort, but not as an off-season, unauthorized downhill mountain bike course. If the course was authorized, however, the land must also be maintained to be safe as such.
Situations Causing the Injury
Premises liability injuries can be caused by:
- Slip and Fall: Perhaps the most common premise liability cases involve slip and fall. This cause of action describes nearly any instance where someone falls because of a dangerous condition and is injured on someone’s property.
- Negligence: Negligence is similar to slip and fall, as both require some type of failure to act on the owner’s behalf. However, negligence extends liability beyond falling to nearly any type of disrepair that causes an injury may be actionable under a negligence theory.
Should I Consult with a Lawyer?
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you should contact a personal injury lawyer immediately. While property owners have a myriad of defenses to liability available, only an attorney can thoroughly evaluate your case, and ensure your rights are protected.
Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 09-11-2014 04:32 PM PDT
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