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Premises Liability: Everything You Need To Know

Every day, you set foot on someone else’s property — a sidewalk, a friend’s house, a grocery store, or an office. You may not give it much thought, but the owners of these properties have an obligation to you: they must keep their property safe.

When you’ve been injured due to their carelessness or negligence, you have the right to file a premises liability claim and sue them for compensation.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability falls under personal injury law. Under premises liability, property owners have a legal duty to keep their premises “reasonably safe” for all residents, visitors, and employees.

While specific laws vary from state to state, the main tenet of premises liability is maintaining the safety of the property, either by removing known hazards or providing sufficient warnings about them. Property owners are liable for those injuries when they fail to uphold this duty and create dangerous, risky, or faulty conditions that directly lead to an injury.

It doesn’t matter whether an accident occurred indoors or outdoors. The property owner can be held responsible if it results from negligence. Premises liability accidents can occur in a variety of places, including both residential and commercial settings.

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a premises liability case. Your best course of action is to consult a premises liability lawyer in your area, who can inform you of your rights and your legal options. When a property owner fails to keep their property safe, you shouldn’t have to suffer for their actions.

Types of Premises Liability Cases

Because of its relatively broad scope, there are many types of premises liability cases. Here are some of the most common cases:

Slip and fall cases

Slip and fall cases are the most common type of premises liability. Unfortunately, it remains one of the leading causes of death for older adults. Slip and falls can occur for many reasons, such as spills, icy or slippery flooring, torn carpeting, cracked flooring, defective stairwells or safety rails, etc. An example of a slip and fall case is a woman sustaining a back injury after slipping on melted ice cream on the floor of a shopping center.

Defective sidewalks

A trip and fall accident has special considerations if it occurs on a public sidewalk. You can sue the municipal body responsible for its maintenance, but there are typically shorter deadlines and additional requirements for filing a claim. An example of this case type is a man sustaining a leg injury after getting his foot caught in a crack on the sidewalk.

Insufficient security

Property owners must provide adequate security on their premises to prevent guests from being assaulted or robbed. An example of this case type is a man being mugged in a dimly-lit parking lot without security guards or security cameras in the area.

Dog bites or animal attacks

Pet owners are liable for their pet’s actions, especially if their pet causes bodily harm or emotional trauma. For example, if a girl is bitten by a dog that escaped its owner’s backyard due to a crack in the fencing, the dog owner is held liable.

Electrocution accidents

Faulty electrical wiring or man-made hazards can lead to electrocution. An example would be if a property owner fails to put hazard signs around their electric fence, and a trespasser gets electrocuted after unknowingly making contact with the fence.

Fire accidents

Sticking to building codes is integral to keeping a property safe. For example, if a negligent landlord refuses to install a new sprinkler system, causing several tenants to suffer when there’s a fire, they’re liable for those injuries.

Swimming accidents

Swimming pools may be a popular place for leisure, but they can be dangerous, especially when crowded. Accidents can be caused by inattentive lifeguards, poor maintenance, defective pool equipment, etc. An example of this case type is suing for drowning or a near-drowning that results in permanent injuries (like brain damage).

Falling or flying objects

Unsecured objects can pose a hazard when jostled. If a falling box strikes an employee due to cramped conditions in a warehouse, they would have a premises liability case.

Each of these types of cases has its considerations, so it’s best to consult with a lawyer with experience with your specific type of case. A skilled premises injury lawyer will be able to help you prove how your injuries were related to the property owner’s negligence.

Types of Injuries From Premises Liability

Even if a slip and fall accident sounds significantly less dramatic than a car crash, it still has the potential to cause severe injuries, along with other types of premises liability accidents. Sometimes, these injuries may even have lifelong consequences. The most common premises liability injuries include:

  • Sprains and bruises
  • Broken bones
  • Head and neck injuries (including traumatic brain damage)
  • Spinal cord injuries (including paralysis)
  • Dog bite wounds
  • Burn injuries
  • Electric shocks
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Disability
  • Death

You deserve justice if you’ve sustained injuries like these due to a property owner’s negligence. With the help of a premises liability lawyer, you can secure compensation for damages, including:

  • Economic damages: These are damages that have a financial cost, including medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and funeral expenses.
  • Non-economic damages: These include damages that don’t have a financial cost, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and emotional distress. If the accident resulted in the death of a loved one, you could also recover damages for a loss of companionship or support.

What Is the Property Owner Responsible For?

In some states, the property owner’s responsibility depends on your status as a visitor. There are three categories:

  • Invitees are individuals who have express or implied permission from the property owner to enter the property. They can be business invitees (like customers at a supermarket) or public invitees (like library patrons). The property owner has a duty to keep their property reasonably safe and free of hazards for invitees.
  • Licensees are individuals who also have express or implied permission from the property owner to enter the property but are entering it for their own purposes (like guests at a house party). The property owner has a duty to warn licensees of potential hazards.
  • Trespassers: These are individuals who have no permission to enter the property. The property owner typically isn’t responsible for them unless they’re a child attracted by features on the property or they were injured by a man-made hazard that didn’t have proper warnings (like an unmarked electric fence).

In general, you have to prove three things to win a premises liability claim against a property owner:

  1. They knew or should have reasonably known about the hazard on their property.
  2. They should have had enough time to address the hazard, but they were negligent about the maintenance of the property.
  3. The hazard directly caused your injuries.

Next Steps if You’ve Been Injured

Accidents often come out of nowhere, blindsiding you with the consequences. Immediately after an accident, you might feel overwhelmed with the pain of your injuries and the piling expenses.

An experienced premises injury lawyer can help ease your burden. We handle everything from building the case to negotiating with the at-fault party and can even represent you in court if necessary. Call us at (213) 252-1070 or contact us online for a free consultation about your case today.

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