Premises Liability – The Extent of a Property Owner’s Responsibility

One very common accident which can cause injure to any one is slip and fall. This accident can occur anywhere, in a public or a private place, and can cause injuries, which can be as simple as a minor bruise, or as serious as a fractured wrist or elbow or spinal column injury.

The National Safety Council (NSC) says that more than eight million slip and fall accidents occur in the United States every year. The most common causes of these accidents include: wet, oily, icy or slippery floors or surfaces: uneven, loose or broken floors, steps, sidewalks or stairs; a defective staircase; unsecured rugs or carpets; or hidden or tangled extension wires.

While one would ordinarily put the blame on those who slip and fall and say that the accident and their injuries are results of their not being careful, for personal injury lawyers or slip and fall accident lawyers, the blame could rather be imputed on the owner of the property.

Slip and fall accidents are filed as premises liability cases, with premises liability referring to a landowner’s accountability for injuries suffered by persons on his/her property due to a defective or unsafe condition. Injury resulting to slipping, tripping or falling, is not the only scope of a premises liability lawsuit, though; it also injuries caused by falling objects, electrocution, open excavations, broken chairs, and so forth.

The extent of a property owner’s responsibility and liability to injuries sustained depends of classification or those who enter his/her premise. These classification refers to the three classes or categories of visitors: invitee, licensee and trespasser.

An invitee may refer to a friend, a relative or a neighbor, who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter his/her property. A licensee refers to a person who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter the property. Examples of a licensee include a party guest, a family friend, or a person who enters a store to ask about something or to retrieve something. A trespasser is a person who has no authority, whatsoever, to be on someone else’s property. Thus, being on the property illegally, the owner owes him/her no responsibility if ever he/she gets injured (unless he/she is a child).

According to the Karlin, Fleisher & Falkenberg, LLC, law firm, in some states, like in Chicago, for instance, property owners have a legal obligation to reasonably maintain the safety of their premises. A property owner who fails to do so and if the slip and fall accident victim will be able to prove that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition that caused his/her accident, then it would be wise to pursue compensation through a lawsuit.