The Basics of Premises Liability

By Mark T. Flickinger, JD on April 06, 2019

In the case of premise liability, an injury or some sort of damage has occurred due to some unsafe or defective condition on someone’s property—which means the property owner can be held liable. If any of these injuries or damages are due to the property owner’s negligence, there is a good case for premise liability. Being injured on someone else’s property is not enough to have a premise liability case, you’ll need to be able to prove negligence. As a property owner, you are responsible to take reasonable care—whether your property is public or otherwise. If a property owner is aware of a present danger on their property and does not act to prevent any potential injury or damages, they are being neglectful.

When it comes to premises liability, there are different situations where it may apply. Some examples where you may find premises liability in everyday life include:

  • Slip, trip, and fall cases

  • Dog bites

  • Snow and ice accidents

  • Water leaks or flooding

  • Lack of security or lighting that led to assault

  • Toxic fumes

  • Defective or unsafe condition on the premises

  • Defective staircases

  • Swimming pool accidents

  • Wet floors

  • Hidden extension chords

  • Unsecured rugs

 

What is Duty of Care?

A property own must take reasonable care of their property to maintain their own duty of care. The laws of duty of care will differ from state to state. Typically, a property owner is required to act as any other reasonable person would and maintain a certain level of standard care in regard to their property. Essentially, they need to keep their property reasonably safe and clear up and hazards within a reasonable amount of time. For any condition to be considered a liability to the property owner, they mat be aware of it and not acted. Whether they place a sign, such a “Beware of Dog” sign if there is a dog on premises, or shovel away snow if there has been a storm recently, they need to have taken some action. However, they do need a reasonable amount of time to act. If, for example, there is a storm in the middle of the night and someone slips on ice at say 4 a.m., there has not be a reasonable amount of time for the property owner to clear away the ice.

Personal Liability and Premises Liability

What’s the difference between personal liability and premises liability? These two are often confused but they are not the same. Personal liability stems from one’s actions and can take place anywhere on any property. Whereas, with premises liability the case must take place on your property for your to be liable. Both liabilities can have similar consequences and can be a result of similar occurrence, mainly neglect, but they are different laws. Anyone can be guilty of personal liability, only property owners can be guilty of premise liability.

 

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