“Premises liability” is the legal term for injury cases that involve someone getting hurt because of a dangerous condition on someone’s property. Common examples of premises liability cases include slip and fall cases as well as trip and fall cases. Premises liability law can be very complicated. The purpose of this page is to help personal injury victims who have been injured because of a dangerous condition on somebody’s property understand their rights.
Whether someone will be held accountable in a personal injury case involving premises liability depends on several factors. The first factor is whether the person alleged to have caused the injury “possessed” the property at issue. The second factor is what the injured person was doing on the property when the injury occurred. The third is whether the condition complained of was “unreasonably” dangerous.
For purposes of premises liability law, a person can possess property when they own, occupy, or control the property. The main element that must usually be present for a person to be responsible for an injury on their property is control. Common examples of people who control property for purposes of premises liability claims include property owners, tenants, general contractors, and property management companies. However, whether someone possesses a property depends on the facts of the specific case.
Even if someone injured on the property can identify who possessed the property when the injury occurred, that is not enough to hold the possessor responsible. That is because the possessor’s obligation to make a property safe depends on why the injured person was on the premises to begin with. If the person injured was invited to be on the premises for the mutual benefit of the parties, the person possessing the property is required to inspect the premises for dangerous conditions and either correct them or warn about them. In this situation, the injured person is considered an “invitee.” A good example of an invitee is someone who visits a local business to potentially purchase goods or services.
If the person injured was invited to be on the premises, but is only there for their own benefit or purposes, the person possessing the property only has to correct or warn about a dangerous condition if the possess actually knows about it; in other words, there is no obligation to inspect. In this situation, the injured person is considered a “licensee.” A good example of a licensee is someone who is a social guest at someone’s home.
If, however, the person injured was trespassing on the premises, the possessor is only required to avoid intentionally harming someone, and avoid being indifferent to a very dangerous condition the possessor knows is likely to hurt someone. A good example of a situation where a possessor could be liable to a trespasser is if the possessor booby-trapped the property with something very dangerous.
Finally, a possessor of the premises can only be held responsible for injuries that are caused by an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property. This means there was some dangerous condition on the property that a prudent person would have foreseen the likelihood of someone getting hurt by the condition.
Yes, you should. Beyond the fact that premises liability cases can be very complicated, an experienced personal injury lawyer will take the time to make sure you understand your rights and responsibilities after getting hurt. Additionally, it might be critical to make sure evidence is preserved so that the case can actually be proven.
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