Have you been damaged or injured on someone else’s property or while visiting a business? Are you wondering if you have the basis to file a premises liability lawsuit in order to receive compensation for your injuries? Or maybe you are a property owner or business owner who has been served with a premises liability lawsuit, and you would like to know if you are liable for a person’s damages or injuries. In either case, you are probably trying to learn as much as you can about premises liability and the basics of a premises liability case.
What Is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to a branch of law that holds property owners and business owners responsible for the safety of people on their property. If those property owners and business owners fail to provide a safe environment, they may be liable for any damages or personal injuries that occur on their property. However, the fact that a person suffered damages or was personally injured on someone else’s property is not enough within itself to justify a premises liability case. The injured party must be able to show that the property or business owners were negligent in their duties.
The Responsibility of Property Owners and Business Owners
If you are a property owner or business owner, you have a responsibility to make sure that your property is adequately maintained and presents a safe environment for patrons, visitors, and guests on your property. This is true whether your property is open to the public or only to members and private individuals. If a person suffers damage or is injured on your property due to a hazard that you knew about or should have known about and took no actions to mitigate, you may be liable. On the other hand, you may not be liable for damages or injuries that occur beyond your control such as an act of God.
Duties of Patrons, Visitors, and Guests
Patrons, visitors, and guests who are on another person’s property have a duty to act in a reasonable and responsible manner that does not magnify the chances of being damaged or personally injured. For instance, a person who willingly and purposely fails to heed a warning sign or ignores an obvious danger has not met their level of duty. Additionally, parents, caregivers, and other persons in responsible charge of another person’s wellbeing have a duty to act in the best interests of the person under their care.
In some cases, damages or personal injuries may be caused by the negligence of a third party. For instance, a business may have signed an agreement with a contractor who caused an unsafe condition to exist in violation of the terms of the agreement. Or the property owners may have purchased and installed a device that was defective and created a hazard. An example of this might be a grocery store that purchases shelving from a third party. If the shelving collapses and injures a shopper due to a defect in the shelving, the company that manufactured the shelving might be liable for the accident.
In some cases, more than one party in a premises liability case may have acted in a negligent manner. This is referred to as comparative negligence. Take the previous example of grocery store shelving falling on a customer because the shelving was defective. What if the customer who was injured was climbing the shelving in order to reach an item on the top shelf even though a sign was posted that said to keep off the shelves and ask for assistance? A court might decide that both the manufacturer of the shelving and the injured party were negligent and might award damages based on the percentage that each party was negligent.
Slip and Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are one of the most common types of premises liability lawsuits. Thousands of such accidents occur every year at various locations around the country. Any number of negligent actions can cause a person to slip and fall, such as cluttered store isles, slick walkways, uneven concrete, and the lack of handrails. Insufficient lighting and defective escalators can also lead to a slip and fall accident. Common locations for slip and fall accidents include supermarkets, big box stores, restaurants, offices, and parking lots.
Dog bites also make up a large number of premises liability cases. Dog bites can occur on both residential and commercial property and can cause significant harm to a victim even to the point of disfiguration. Property owners, including homeowners, are responsible for controlling the whereabouts and the actions of their dogs. This means that dogs must be kept in a secure location and only taken into public on a leash or under other methods of control. If a dog gets loose and bites a person, the owner of that dog may be negligent even if the victim is on the property of the person who owns the dog.
The Difference in Personal Injury and Premises Liability Cases
While both case types may involve a personal injury that occurred due to negligence, premises liability cases revolve around a person being injured on someone else’s property. However, a personal injury case can occur anywhere. Although these two types of cases sound very similar, the difference may be quite complex because they are governed by different laws.
Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit
If you have been injured on another person’s property, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries by filing a lawsuit. However, you will most likely need the services of a law firm with experience in premises liability cases. Contact us today, and we will be happy to discuss the merits of your case with you and advise you on how to proceed. We know that your life may be very difficult right now if you are suffering from injuries and would be happy to meet with you at your convenience for a free consultation.