If someone owns or occupies a home or a business, they generally have a duty of care to those that enter their property. When a property owner or occupant fails to prevent injury to guests and customers, then that person may be liable for those injuries under premises liability.
There are multiple negligent acts or omissions that may give rise to a premises liability claim.
- A store owner may fail to have proper procedures in place to mop up water at an entryway during the winter, causing a slip and fall and a fractured hip.
- A home owner may fail to place a fence around a pool and an invited guest falls in and drowns.
- A renter may fail to sequester a dog with small guests come to visit and a child is bitten by the animal causing bruises, bleeding, and nightmares.
- The sidewalk in front of a home or business has large cracks or an uneven surface causing a passerby to trip and break her arm.
- A business owner fails to clear icicles hanging from an awning covering an entryway, a customer is hit by one of the icicles and it injures his eye.
- A commercial property owner is making improvements to the building and a passerby on the street is hit with falling debris and suffers a traumatic brain injury.
- The landlord of an apartment knows that the buildings electrical wires are faulty but fails to repair and a tenant is burned when she flips a switch.
As a general matter, to prevail on a premises liability cause of action, you must prove that.
- The other party owned, leased, occupied, or controlled the property where the injury occurred;
- That the other party was negligent in his or her use or maintenance of the property;
- That you were harmed; and
- That the other party’s negligence was a “substantial factor” in causing your injuries.
Complexity of Premises Liability Claims & Potential Issues
These elements may seem straightforward and easy to establish; however, many issues can arise from establishing each element. There may be a question concerning whether the injured party was lawfully on the property or trespassing. While the injured person must generally be lawfully there, i.e., they must be an invited guest or a licensee (such as a potential customer for a business), there is an exception for trespassing children who are drawn to the property by an “attractive nuisance,” such as a trampoline or a pool. You can set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your premises liability case if you have been involved in an accident on someone else’s property, by contacting an accident lawyer.
Another potential issue is who controls the property for the purposes of liability. One party may own the property, but alleged that another party occupies or controls the property so that he or she should not be held liable. Moreover, the property occupier could argue that she or she informed the property owner of a harmful condition on the property which the property owner had a duty to repair, and might argue that even though he or she occupied the property, the owner should be held liable.
The property owner or occupier (or his or her insurance company) may question whether you were harmed in fact. If the physical injury was limited to soft tissue damage or other injuries that do not appear with objective testing, then your credibility regarding your injuries may be questioned. Furthermore, if you have pre-existing conditions the may be said that the negligence was not a “substantial factor” in causing your injuries or even the wrongful death of another.
Because any one of these issues may prevent you from receiving fair compensation for injuries sustained because of a property owner or occupier’s negligence, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to assist with your claim. If you or someone you love was injured on another person’s property and need help, please contact us for a free consultation.