Defining Premises Liability
A premises liability case in personal injury law involves injuries that were caused by a property owner’s failure to maintain the property to ensure safety or warn visitors of hazards. These cases will often involve slip and fall cases, construction accidents, and assaults that occur as a result of inadequate security on the property.
The laws of the state in which the injury has occurred determine liability.
Some states will focus on the status of the injured visitor, while others will focus on the condition of the property and the activities of the owner and visitor.
In states that focus on the status of the visitor to the property, there are four different labels that apply to the injured person:
Invitee – someone that has been invited onto the property, such as a customer in a store or a contractor hired to do repairs on a property. They are visiting the property for reasons that benefit both the visitor and property owner.
Licensee – enters the property for their own purpose or as a social guest, and is present at the consent of the owner. This person is not trading benefits, such as money, with the property owner.
Trespasser – enters without any rights or permission to be on the property.
Duties of Care
A property owner owes a different duty of care to the individuals in each category:
Invitees – The property owner is required to protect those invited into their home from any dangerous conditions that the owner is aware of or should know about. They must inspect property and fix any dangerous conditions they find, or warn invitees about them.
This warning is usually displayed with some kind of visual sign, such as a “Caution: Wet Floor” sign.
Licensees – The property owner must protect his licensees from dangers he knows about by warning them in advance. He is not required to inspect or fix the dangerous conditions as soon as they are discovered.
Trespassers – The property owner cannot create dangerous conditions on the property or make them worse with the purpose of catching trespassers. But they are not required to fix dangerous conditions or warn trespassers about them.
Premises liability applies only to dangerous conditions present on the property, such as an icy sidewalk, rotted steps, or spilled food on a grocery store floor.
When a property owner is charged with a premises liability suit, they may relay on several affirmative defenses to explain why they should not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injury.
They will commonly defend themselves by citing assumed risk, where an injured person was reasonably aware of the risk that they would be injured in a particular way, but acted regardless of the warning.
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If you are concerned that you may have reason to sue for premises liability and these laws may apply to your case, contact a Tucson personal injury attorney at Thrush Law Group today.