Claims for injuries that happened on someone else’s property are called Premises Liability cases, as they involve the liability of the owner of the premises on which you are injured. Premises liability cases are based on negligence; to win a premises liability case, the injured person must prove the property owner was negligent regarding ownership or maintenance of the property. Generally, negligence means the property owner didn’t use reasonable care regarding the property.
But, being injured on someone else’s property does not mean the property owner was negligent. And, even if the property was in an unsafe condition, it does not mean the property owner was negligent. You must show the property owner knew or should reasonably have known about the unsafe condition on the property that injured you, and still failed to fix the unsafe condition in a reasonable time.
There are many types of premises liability cases, like:
- When you slip and fall on some condition on the property.
- If you are injured by a hidden defect on the property.
- Inadequate building security leading to injury or assault.
- Elevator and escalator accidents.
- Dog bites.
- Swimming pool accidents.
- Amusement park accidents.
- Water leaks or flooding.
- Toxic fumes or chemicals.
These are just examples; there are many other situations where persons can be injured on someone else’s property.
So, what are property owners’ duty of care toward persons injured on property? This usually falls into one of three categories:
An invitee is someone who has the landowner’s express or implied permission to be on the property. Invitees are people like friends, relatives, and neighbors. The landowner traditionally owed an invitee a duty of reasonable care to keep the property reasonably safe for the invitee.
A licensee is someone who has the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property, but is coming onto the property for his or her own purposes. Licensees are usually people like salesmen. The landowner traditionally owed a licensee a lesser duty only to warn the licensee of dangerous conditions that create an unreasonable risk of harm if:
- The landowner knows about the condition, and
- The licensee is not likely to be able to discover it.
A trespasser is not authorized to be on the property. Traditionally, landowners owed no duty to trespassers unless the trespasser was a child. In such cases, the landowner owes the duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid a reasonably foreseeable risk of harm to children caused by artificial conditions on the land (like swimming pools), also called the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Please call us if you have questions about a potential premises liability case.