January 21, 2014

Understanding Premises Liability

If you or a loved one is injured on property (premises) owned by another party, that property owner may be liable for damages incurred in the accident or incident. Any instance in which someone suffers injury because a property owner has been negligent - whether by failing to maintain the property, providing insufficient security, or failing to caution visitors regarding known hazards - may be grounds for a premises liability lawsuit.

What Makes a Premises Liability Case?

A personal injury attorney can tell you if your case falls under the purview of premises liability law. To obtain compensation in such a case, you will have to prove that:

  • You were on the premises lawfully (invited by the owner, on public land, in a retail establishment during open hours) and/or with the knowledge of the property owner;
  • The owner of the property knew or should have known about the hazardous condition that caused the injury - and failed to adequately address the issue, including blocking access, repair or removal of hazards, and/or warning of dangers;
  • The hazardous condition and negligence of the property owner was the cause of your injury or a victim's wrongful death.

According to personal injury law, a premises liability case may deal with injuries caused by a wide range of hazardous situations, including slip and fall accidents, assaults that result from insufficient security on the premises, falling objects, and even car accidents due to insufficient signage or lighting in parking lots.

Property Owners' Duty of Care

Premises liability attorneys help injury victims to establish the property owner's liability by determining the owner's duty of care in the situation. Depending on whether you are a "business invitee" (such as a shopper at a store), a "licensee" (such as a houseguest), or a "trespasser" (on the property without the permission of the owner), the owner owes varying levels of duty of care toward you on his property.

  • Invitee: Property owners such as businesses are required by law to regularly inspect any areas of their property to which invitees have access - and to actively protect invitees from any dangerous condition by fixing it, roping off the area, or warning invitees with adequate caution signs.
  • Licensee: Personal property owners who invite guests onto the premises have a duty to protect licensees from known hazards by warning them, but are not required to inspect the property for hazards or to fix dangerous conditions as soon as he becomes aware of them.
  • Trespasser: A property owner would only be liable for the injuries of a trespasser on their property if he purposely created a hazard on his property in order to catch trespassers. There is no duty to warn trespassers of known hazards on private property or to fix them.

If you were injured and feel it might be due to the negligence of the property owner, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries by pursuing a premises liability lawsuit. The Fort Lauderdale accident attorneys of Madalon Law will answer your questions at no cost and let you know the options you may have in order to seek the compensation you deserve.