Premises liability is the theory of law which holds property owners and those in control of properties to maintain reasonably safe conditions to prevent injury to guests, employees, customers, and others who come onto the property. Property owners and managers who know about a dangerous condition, or should know, can be held liable for injuries if they fail to correct the condition or post warnings in a timely fashion.
Examples of Premises Liability Accidents
Common examples of premises liability accidents and injuries include:
- Slip/trip and fall
- Criminal attacks due to negligent security
- Accidental drowning and near drowning
- Trampoline accidents
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Building fires resulting in injuries due to lack of fire escapes or safety equipment
- Stairway accidents
- Accidents and injuries caused by snow and ice
- Sidewalk, parking lot, and parking garage accidents
- Construction accidents
- Falling merchandise
- Food poisoning
Premises Liability Victims
Different types of visitors have different levels of rights under premises liability. The laws are different in each state. Generally, someone who is considered to be an invitee, such as a customer in a retail establishment or restaurant, can expect the highest level of care on the part of the property owner.
If you are a guest in someone’s home, you can still expect a reasonable amount of care for your safety from the property owner or the person in control of the property, but the standard is not as high as if you were a customer in a business.
Trespassers may have some recourse for their injuries, depending on the circumstances.
Children are given special consideration even as trespassers. If the property owner knows that it is reasonably likely that a child could wander onto the property, there is a duty to protect them from known dangers, such as swimming pools.
Tenants and Landlords
Tenants who rent or lease a property have limited rights under premises liability. When you rent a property, you take control of it, so as the tenant, you are responsible for the safety of your guests and for your own safety.
However, if there are hidden dangers that the landlord is aware of and does not correct or warn you about, and you are injured as a result, the landlord may be held responsible. Also, if the landlord creates a dangerous condition in the course of performing repairs or maintenance, the landlord may be held responsible.
In apartment buildings and similar settings, the landlord is responsible for conditions in common areas such as hallways and parking lots.