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The Many Aspects of Premises Liability

Posted on in Personal Injury

Everything has finally fallen into place and that life long dream of owning your own home or company has been fulfilled. Whether you have just moved into your dream home or are now your own boss life is good. However, the world can come crashing down in a hurry if there is an accident and someone is injured.

Land, premises or places of business can all fall under this umbrella, and it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney if you are involved in any premises liability situation. A person is considered in possession of a premises if you occupy and have sole control of that space or are entitled to take control and occupation of that property. So even before moving in inventory or office desks you may be considered liable for any injuries that would occur on the property.

While it may appear that the owner or current occupant of the property is always responsible; there are instances when the liability falls on another party depending on their status. The plaintiff in a premises liability case fall under one of these categories:

  • Invitee: This is a person who has an implied or express invitation to enter a property. This would include customers at a store or anyone who is on the property to do business with the proprietor. It is the duty of the possessor of the property to provide the safest environment for an invitee. This includes an unreasonable risk of harm that the owner knows could do harm to an invitee. An example of this duty would be ensuring spills are promptly cleaned and warning signs placed where a floor may be wet.
  • Licensee: Someone who enters a premises other than to conduct business, but has the implied or express permission to be there is a licensee. A guest of the proprietor would fall under this description. Harm to a licensee is considered the fault of the possessor when they knew or should have known of a condition that could cause harm, they failed to take steps to warn the licensee and if the licensee was unaware of that situation. An example is a loose floorboard that the owner is aware of. The licensee does not realize the floor board is loose and injures themselves when it gives way. The homeowner is now liable for the cost of that injury because they did not warn the licensee about the potential risk.
  • Trespasser: Anyone who enters the property or premises without implied or express consent or invitation is considered a trespasser. There is no duty for the owner to make a trespasser aware of any potential risks. However, if the proprietor does have knowledge of a trespasser then it may become their obligation to ensure the safety of that person.
  • Most of the time the responsibilities of the owner or proprietor cannot be delegated. As long as the property remains in possession of that person it is their responsibility as far as premises liability. Even if maintenance of the property is hired out to others, such as a landlord hiring a management firm, it is still the ultimate responsibility of the owner.

No matter what side you may land on in a case involving premises liability, it is always prudent to contact an experienced attorney.

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