Premises Liability Law

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Premises liability law covers legal responsibilities of property owners and occupants in preventing injuries to persons who enter onto their property.

Common Causes of Premises Liability

Common causes of injury include tripping or slipping, falls on icy sidewalks, falls occurring on loose or uneven stair treads, or spilled liquids on floors.

The liability of the property owner varies depending on the rules and principles of the location where the injury occurred.

Status of the Visitor Focus and Premises Liability

In states where the status of the visitor to the property is the focus, the injured person can be defined as either an invitee, a licensee or a trespasser.

  • Invitee - someone who is expressly or impliedly invited onto the property by the owner, who owes the invitee the highest duty of care. This includes taking all reasonable precautions to ensure the safety of the invitee.

  • Licensee - someone who enters and is present on the property for his or her own purposes at the consent of the owner. The owner of the property is required to warn the licensee of any hidden dangers, but at the same time is not required to fix them.

  • Trespasser - someone who enters the property without right to do so. If it is an adult trespasser, the owner has no duty of care. The owner does not need to take reasonable care of his property or warn of potentially hidden dangers. If the trespasser suffers injuries and can show that the owner knew it was likely that trespassers would enter the property and have not taken care to warn of hidden dangers the trespasser may still be able to recover liability.

Minors are owed a higher duty of care, regardless of whether they are considered to be trespassers. Thus, a landowner’s duty to warn of dangers applies when children are involved.

Property/ Owner Focus

In states where the condition of the property and the activities of the owner and visitor is the focus, a uniform standard of care and safety is applied to visitors other than trespassers - both invitees and licensees.

In order to satisfy this, an owner must inspect their property on continued bases to identify dangerous conditions and either repair them or post warnings.

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