What is premises liability? It is a legal concept referring to personal injury cases where the injury was caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition taking place on someone else’s property. There are many various types of premises liability cases you may have heard of, including slip and falls, snow and ice accidents, inadequate maintenance, elevator accidents, dog bites, swimming pool accidents, water leaks, and many more. They can include a very wide range of scenarios, as you can see.
Visitors on properties are divided generally into three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers.
- Invitees: People who have the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property such as friends, relatives, and neighbors. The landowner owes a duty of care to keep the property safe for them.
- Licensee: Someone who has the landowner’s express or implies permission to enter the property; however, they are coming onto the property for their own purposes. They could refer to people like salesmen. They owe a lesser duty to warn the licensee.
- Trespasser: This is someone who is not authorized to be on the property. Landowners don’t typically owe a duty to the trespasser unless the trespasser is a child. In that case, the landowner owed a duty of care to avoid a risk of harm such as a child falling into a pool.
Liability is generally determined by the laws and procedures of the state in which the injury took place. The court will focus on the status of the injured visitor in some states, while in others, the focus will fall on the condition of the property and the activities of both the owner and visitor. An apartment tenant is also treated in the same manner as a landowner in many situations.
Property Conditions and Visitor Actions
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Sometimes determining factors can lie on property conditions and visitor actions. In these cases, a uniform standard of care is applied to both invitees and licensees. What falls under this uniform of care? It requires the exercise of reasonable care for the safety of the visitor, other than a trespasser. This requires the examination of numerous factors, which include:
- Circumstances under which the visitor entered the property
- Use to which the property is put
- Foreseeability of the accident or injury that occurred
- Reasonableness of the owner/possessor’s effort to repair a dangerous condition or warn visitors
Lessors and Landlords
Sometimes, special rules may apply to lessors and landlords of properties. A general rule of thumb is that a lessor is not liable to a lessee or anybody else who has been caused physical harm due to a condition on the property. It is based off of the lessor’s presumed lack of control over the property once it is leased. However, there can always be exceptions to the rule.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to premises liability, you should speak with an experienced attorney to ensure that you retain your legal rights in full. At MDL, we will speak to you at a free consultation to go over your case and see what compensation you may be entitled to.