When someone enters your property – whether a place of business or a private residence – he or she has the expectation that injuries will not be incurred. As the property owner, you are responsible for maintaining a safe environment. This is known as premise liability.
Under the design of premise liability, property owners are held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on their property. Some common incidents that are included under premise liability are:
- Slip and fall injuries,
- Assaults, and
- Animal attacks.
Liability is determined by the laws and procedures of the state. Typically, the court will focus on the status of the injured and the victim’s status on the property at the time of the injury. For example, if a victim was trespassing, the injury may not be the responsibility of the property owner. But, if he or she was a customer or an invited guest, then the property owner is liable for any injuries suffered.
Determining Invitee, Licensee and Trespasser Status
The status of the visitor will greatly influence how a premise liability case turns out. Typically, the court will assess the four different labels that could apply: the invitee, social guest, licensee, or trespasser.
- The invitee is a person on the property of another, such as a visitor to a retail store. The customer’s presence implies that the store owner should keep a reasonably safe environment, in order for customers to shop at the store.
- A licensee is one who enters a property for independent (non-customer) purposes, but is still present with the consent of the property owner.
- A social guest is a person who is welcomed onto the property by the owner – such as someone who you invite to or allow in your home.
- A trespasser is someone who enters your home or commercial property without permission. Under this status, there is no implied promise of a reasonably safe environment.
Assessing the Conditions of the Property
As a property owner, you are required to keep a reasonably safe environment. But, what is “reasonable” under the law? Unfortunately, there is not a specific definition for what is reasonable or not. Instead, the court will compare the conditions of the property, the actions of the injured, and other relevant details to those of others in similar positions. For example, if you were sued by someone who slipped on an icy sidewalk on your property, the court would assess a few factors:
- How long you knew the ice was present;
- If you had a reasonable amount of time to salt or remove the ice. If you were notified of the ice several hours before the injury occurred, the court may assume that you had ample notice to remove the hazard; and
- If the hazard could have been reasonably avoided by the injury victim.
What If You Are Injured on Someone’s Property?
If you were invited onto someone’s property and then injured, you may have a claim against the property owner. Whether it was a slip-and-fall or other injury, the owner is required to provide you with a safe environment when present on his or her property. After your injury, contact Gladstein Law Firm. We can evaluate and assist you with your premise liability claim. Call for a free case evaluation or fill out our online contact form with your questions.