Injuries to People on Your Property

Where You Need a Lawyer:

(This may not be the same place you live)

At No Cost! 

 What Happens If Someone Gets Injured on My Property?

Property owners and property tenants have to maintain a relatively safe environment on their property so that the risk of individuals who enter their property suffering a personal injury will be minimized. This legal concept is called premises liability.

If an individual is injured on an owner’s property, the owner may be liable for any personal injuries that result.

What Are Premises Liability Laws for Residential Property Owners?

Each owner of a residential property has an obligation to ensure that their home and land are reasonably safe for any individual who visits or is invited to the premises.

Residential property includes all types of real estate, such as:

  • Homes;
  • Townhouses; and
  • Condominiums.

If an individual owns a residential property and another individual is injured either in their home or on their property, the owner may be held liable for the losses or harms suffered by the injured party. Premises liability laws govern residential homeowners’ liability for personal injuries.

These types of claims are typically based on the tort law theory of negligence and can vary depending on the jurisdiction and facts surrounding an individual’s case.

What Are the Laws Regarding Premises Liability?

Premises liability is governed by the procedures and laws of the state in which an individual’s injury occurred. In certain states, courts may focus on the legal status of the individual who was injured.

In other states, courts may focus on the condition of the property as well as the activities of the owner and the individual who was injured.

Typically, a court will consider numerous factors when determining whether or not to hold a property owner liable for an individual’s injuries, including:

  • The condition of the property, meaning whether or not the property was maintained or needed a lot of repairs;
  • The legal status of the individual visiting the property and whether they were an invitee, licensee, or trespasser;
  • Whether both the property owner and the visitor were at fault for the injury;
  • The circumstances under which the visitor entered the property;
    • For example, was the individual a social guest, or were they attempting a rescue such as a firefighter or police officer;
  • How the property is being used;
  • Whether the accident or injury was one that was foreseeable or not;
  • If the visitor to the property was an adult or was a child;
  • Whether the efforts of the property owner to warn visitors of the dangerous condition or to fix the dangerous condition were reasonable; and
  • Whether the owner knew or should have known about a particular condition on the premises, in other words, were they obvious or hidden.

What Duties Do I Owe?

Traditionally, the law places individuals who enter onto another individual’s land into one of three categories:

  • A trespasser;
  • A licensee; or
  • And invitee.

A trespasser does not have permission from the owner of the land to be on the property and, therefore, are provided limited protections. A landowner only has a duty to reasonably warn a trespasser in order to prevent an injury.

The duty owed to a trespasser only applies to artificial conditions that the owner created. This may include things such as concealed animal traps or other things that may cause injury to the trespasser.

A licensee enters onto land with permission from the land owner. This may include social guests and law enforcement officers. A land owner is required to warn licensees of any concealed dangers as well as any natural dangers.

An invitee or social guest is an individual who was invited by the landowner to be on the land, for example, members of the public or a business guest. The property owner is required to warn the invitee of all dangers that are on the property, whether they are obvious or concealed.

In addition, the property owner is required to remove all of the dangers if reasonably possible. There are a minority of states, such as California, who have abolished these categories and hold landowners to the same duty of care for all individuals who enter on their land.

What Are Common Premises Liability Cases?

Premises liability causes of action are related to personal injury cases that are sustained on another individual’s property.

There are numerous examples of personal injury liability cases that may be classified as premises liability cases, such as:

  • Slip and fall cases;
  • Snow and ice accidents;
  • Inadequate maintenance of the premises;
  • Defective conditions and unsafe conditions on the premises;
  • Lack of building security that may lead to an injury or assault;
  • Elevator or escalator accidents;
  • Dog bites;
  • Swimming pool accidents;
  • Amusement park accidents;
  • Fires;
  • Water leaking or flooding; and
  • Toxic fumes or chemicals.

What Can I Receive as the Injured Party?

If a property owner is found to be negligent or to have breached their duty of care in order to prevent an accident or injury occurring on their property, a plaintiff may be awarded monetary damages. This may include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Future and present medical bills;
  • Lost income or the loss of earning capacity; and
  • Punitive or treble damages, in extreme cases.

In addition, the owner of the property may also be ordered to fix or repair the dangerous condition that led to the injury.

Are There Limitations on Recovery for People Injured on Your Property?

Yes, there may be limitations on recovery for individuals who are injured on a land owner’s property. The majority of states use the comparative negligence principle in premises liability cases.

Comparative negligence is the legal theory that multiple parties are responsible for the personal injury. Under this theory, the recovery of damages is reduced by the percentage of fault that is attributable to each of the parties, even with an injured party.

This is referred to as the apportionment of fault or the allocation of fault. For example, suppose an injured party is considered 30% responsible for their injuries and the property owner is responsible for 70% of their injuries and the total damages awarded is $100,000.

In this case, the injured party’s damages will be reduced by 30% to $70,000.

What are Some Defenses to Claims for Premises Liability?

There are three main categories of defenses that are often used against a claim in a premises liability lawsuit, including:

  • Comparative negligence: As discussed above, most states offer some form of comparative negligence as a defense. In these states, if a plaintiff was partially responsible for their accident, then their damages will be reduced according to the extent that they were at fault;
  • Contributory negligence: Only a handful of states allow a defendant to claim contributory negligence as a defense. In a state that recognizes the defense of contributory negligence, if the plaintiff was partially responsible for their injuries, then they will not be able to recover any damages from the defendant; and
  • Assumption of risk: An assumption of risk defense permits a defendant to argue that the plaintiff was aware of a potential danger on the property and assumed the risk of entering onto the property despite the known danger.

Do I Need a Personal Injury for My Premises Liability?

If you have been injured after being on another individual’s property, you may have a premises liability claim. It is important to consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your claim is filed in a timely manner.

If you are a property owner who is being sued by an individual who was injured on your property, you should also consult with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. Your attorney will also be able to tell you if any defenses are available in your jurisdiction.


16 people have successfully posted their cases

Find a Lawyer