Premises liability is a legal concept that’s most often used when you’re injured on another person’s property. This usually comes into play in personal injury cases, when you’re trying to prove that someone’s property was kept unsafe or defective on purpose. It’s a legal concept that can help prove negligence.
To win a premises liability case, you have to prove that the owner was aware of the problem and took no steps to fix it. Typically, this is an issue with maintenance of the property, but negligence means in general, that the owner failed to keep their property safe.
But there is one clear distinction—you must be able to prove the owner was negligent. If you get injured on somebody’s property, you’re not automatically going to be awarded a premises liability case, in fact you should consult a premises liability lawyer to ensure you even have a case. A good lawyer will walk through the steps with you, and help you decide whether to pursue—or if you can pursue—your potential case.
Types of Premises Liability Cases
There are many types of personal injury cases that are classified to be premises liability cases. Not every one of these has to happen on somebody’s private property—commercial property is included as well.
- Slip and falls
- Snow and ice
- Inadequate maintenance of the premises
- Defective conditions of the premises
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Water leaks
- Toxic fumes and chemicals
Premises liability cases include a wide range of scenarios—and you’ll notice that dog bites are included in the list. That is because animals count as property—and having a potentially dangerous animal on your property, especially one you know may be dangerous towards people, means you could have taken precautions against it injuring somebody and simply did not.
What is the Property Owner’s Duty of Care?
States often require that an owner of property puts reasonable care into it—meaning they must maintain it and if they’re going to have people on their property, they should ensure it is safe for those people. However, not all states enforce this. In fact, there is an old rule that can limit what the landowner must do in regards to a guest, based on the type of guest they are.
All visitors under that law are broken into three categories—invitees, licensees, and trespassers. An invitee is a person who was invited with express permission onto the property; think friends, family and perhaps neighbors. A licensee is somebody with permission to enter the property for their own purposes—think salesmen. And a trespasser is somebody who does not have permission to be on the property.
Under that law, the only category that the homeowner is expected to maintain the property for is the invitees. A licensee may receive warnings that there are dangerous conditions if they know about it and the licensee is unlikely to come across it. A trespasser does not receive any care from the landowner, unless the trespasser is a child.