When someone is injured, many factors can be involved. In part or in full, the property or premises where the injury took place could be responsible for the injury. Take for example if you were walking down the aisle in a supermarket and someone has spilled something on the floor and it was not cleaned up. You slide, fall down and break your ankle. This is a slip and fall case.
Maybe you are at a nursery and a tree branch falls and hits your head. The owners of the nursery are accountable because they did not trim their trees or examine them for dead or weak branches. This falls under the area of inadequate maintenance.
If you patronize a bar and the restrooms require you to go out into a hallway, and down another dark hallway, and someone jumps you, taking your purse or wallet—this is a type of premises liability known as inadequate security. The bar should take precautions to avoid this situation.
Maybe you work in a building that has uneven pavement in the courtyard, or some loose pavers. You trip, fall and injure your wrist. This is referred to as defective conditions that again, could have been avoided by the property owner.
So you see, these situations bring liability on property owners and managers under what is called premises liability law. Personal injury attorneys represent injured people in these types of cases and work diligently to expose and prove the fault of the property owner. However, there are different situations in which someone is on someone else’s property. These affect the outcome of the case.
If you are trespassing on someone’s property and get hurt, then their liability is substantially reduced. They are not obligated to warn trespassers of defective or negligent conditions on their property. But if the property owners are aware that trespassing is going on and also aware of an unsafe condition and did nothing to fix it, they can still be held responsible. Especially if the trespassers are children who may be unaware of dangers due to their youth and lack of experience. So if a property owner knows that kids come onto his vacant lot and play on a rusty, rickety old swingset—he needs to do more to restrict access to the lot or he should remove the swingset.
If you are visiting someone at their home or a property they own, and you are there for non-commercial reasons—you’re simply there as a social guest, you are considered a licensee. Property owners do have a duty to ensure your safety but it is a bit cloudy—most states give licensees less weight in cases than invitees. In other words, the owner of the premises does not owe a licensee quite the same level of care and protection as an invitee.
Invitees of course were invited upon the premises to conduct business. This means shoppers in a mall or store and anyone doing any type of business in a commercial building or area. Property owners and managers of commercial facilities should regularly inspect the premises so that unsafe conditions or hazards will be discovered and can be fixed promptly.
You may be wondering how premises liability works if an employee is injured at their workplace. These injuries fall under workers compensation law rather than premises liability law. Of course there are always exceptions and gray areas, which is why it is always wise to speak to your personal injury attorney about any injury, no matter where it occurs. They can give you the best guidance to determine your course of action and to ensure compensation for all medical needs and lost wages if applicable. Our law firm welcomes your questions and consultations on premises liability and workers compensation cases are provided at no cost to you.