If a person is injured by a dangerous condition on a premises, they may have a premises liability claim. If, however, the person was injured by activity that was taking place on the premises, then a general negligence cause of action may be more appropriate. The most common type of premises liability case is a slip-and-fall. A common misconception about premises liability cases is that just because a person is injured on someone else’s property does not mean that the other person is automatically liable. The fact analysis is more complex. Below are two major types of premises liability cases we handle.
Customers Injured at a Business
While slip-and-fall injuries are the most common type of premises liability claim, the vast majority of these occur in the context of a customer who is at a business location.
Businesses have a duty to use ordinary care to keep the premises in a reasonably safe condition for customers and patrons. This includes the duty to inspect their premises regularly to discover unsafe conditions. Once the business becomes aware of the unsafe condition, or if a reasonable business would have known about the unsafe condition, the business has a duty to either make the condition safe (e.g. clean the floor or repair weak steps) or warn customers of the unsafe condition (e.g. wet-floor warning signs or bright yellow paint on curbs). Businesses do not, however, have a duty to warn about conditions that are open and obvious.
In a slip-and-fall case, a business can have knowledge of a dangerous condition in one of three ways: (1) the business, through its employees, put a substance on the floor; (2) the business, through its employees, knew that the substance was on the floor and failed to remove it; or (3) the substance was on the floor for so long that a reasonable business would have discovered and removed it.
For non-slip-and-fall cases, we look at past injuries from the condition, past complaints about the conditions, whether the condition was unusual compared to other objects in the same class, and whether the condition met applicable safety standards.
Common examples of these cases include:
- Shoppers slipping on fruit or wet floors at a grocery store,
- People slipping on ice at a near drink machine at a restaurant,
- Patrons slipping in bathrooms,
- Hotel guests slipping on hall floors due to pool water that accumulated,
- Customers tripping over curbs that aren’t marked or painted,
- Tenants falling on damaged stairs at an apartment complex,
- Hotel guests burned by faulty water heaters,
- Ice from a sprinkler system in the winter on sidewalks and roads, and
- Hotel guests that suffer carbon monoxide poisoning due to faulty heaters that do not vent CO properly.
Because premises liability claims can be complex and fact-specific, it is best to call a qualified personal injury lawyer if you have any questions. We provide free consultations to anyone who calls, so there is never a risk in placing that first call.
Guest Injured at a Friend’s Home
The second most common type of premises liability claim we see is people who get injured while at a friend’s house. The law treats this situation differently than a customer at a business location by lowering the duty a possessor owes to social guests. Under these circumstances, a possessor can only be held liable if (1) the possessor had actual (not constructive) knowledge of the dangerous condition, (2) the guest did not have actual knowledge of the dangerous condition, (3) the possessor failed to warn the guest of the dangerous condition, and (4) the possessor failed to make the dangerous condition safe. Unlike businesses with customers, regular people do not have a duty to inspect their premises to discover unsafe conditions.
These cases tend to turn on whether the condition that caused the injury posed an unreasonable risk of harm. This complex test also involves the likelihood and magnitude of injury. Again, because premises liability claims can be complex and fact-specific, it is best to call a qualified personal injury lawyer if you have any questions. We provide free consultations to anyone who calls, so there is never a risk in placing that first call.