Premises liability law covers a broad spectrum. The basis of premises liability law is that property owners must maintain safe premises and take care to warn lawful visitors of potential hazards. If you were recently injured while present on another person’s property, the following provides information about premises liability and property owner responsibilities.
Property Owner Responsibilities
To successfully prove a property owner was negligent, you must show that the owner knew or could have reasonably been expected to have known about a hazard and failed to address it. Premises liability laws vary widely from state to state, but property owners across the country must exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of visitors on their properties. Visitors fall into one of three classifications:
- Invitees. This category includes anyone who has the property owner’s permission (either express or implied) to enter the property. Invitees are typically friends, family or neighbors invited to the property for social reasons.
- Licensees. Anyone with the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property for personal purposes is a licensee. This usually includes contractors, utility service providers, or salespeople.
- Trespassers. Property owners have no duty to protect unlawful visitors. However, this does not apply to children. Minors have less of an ability to consider their actions than adults, so property owners must ensure nothing on the property poses a threat to an interloping child.
Property owners are not required to fix each potential hazard as it arises. They must, however, take steps to prevent hazards from posing threats to visitors once they are known. If a property owner fails to address a safety issue, a judge will likely consider him or her liable for any damages or injuries resulting from that issue.
Property owners can protect themselves from legal recourse by taking steps to address known hazards, posting clearly visible signs or other indications of the hazard, and warning lawful guests to the property about the hazard.
Premises liability covers a large swath of potential injuries. Many slip and fall cases involve premises liability law. Reasonably preventable hazards such as failing to clear items such as snow and ice or not making repairs to damaged staircases can lead to a slip and fall injury.
Premises liability also pertains in negligent security cases. Property owners must utilize security measures to protect visitors from physical hazards posed by the buildings and grounds and potential harm from criminals.
Proving Negligence and Winning Your Case
If you find yourself entangled in a premises liability lawsuit, the success of your case depends on your attorney’s ability to prove the defendant’s negligence in caring for the property in question. Proving negligence hinges on substantiating a few things:
- The defendant owed the plaintiff a duty to act with reasonable care. In premises liability lawsuits, you must establish that the defendant should have reasonably foreseen the source of the injury as a hazard and taken steps to prevent harm to visitors.
- The defendant breached this duty by some action. In premises liability cases, this usually includes inaction on part of the defendant, who knew of a hazard but did not adequately address it or sufficiently warn the plaintiff of the danger.
- The failure to address a known safety concern directly resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff may only sue for damages arising from the defendant’s negligence.
If you suffered an injury on another person’s property in Florida, it’s vital to connect with an attorney who can present your case thoroughly and accurately before a judge. The team at SteinLaw is committed to maximizing the recovery of each client, so reach out to us to set up a free consultation about your case.