Premises liability law comprises the legal principles that make tenants and landowners responsible for any hurt someone could suffer when entering their property. In all states, owners occupying a property have the obligation of making a reasonable effort to keep a safe environment for visitors that may enter their properties. Failing in maintain such safe conditions may result in “premises liability.”
In most cases, negligence is the base of premises liability claims, although doctrine may be applied otherwise. “Common law” or the state case precedents is the primary source of premises liability law. However, state statutes, local building codes and municipal ordinances may play a relevant role too.
Traditionally, most state courts decide premises liability matters depending on the injured plaintiff´s reason why he/she entered the property. There are three different categorizations, and each of them is entitled to a different level of protection. These are:
1- Trespassers – People who entered the property without permission.
2– Licensees – Individuals and social guests who entered for their own purposes having been invited or counting with the permission of the owner or occupant.
3- Invitees – People who entered for commercial purposes of the owner (such as business clients, or customers at a mall).
In many states, trespassers who are hurt have practically no right to recover at all provided the owner or occupant refrains from trying to hurt trespassers. However, there is an exception to protect a child trespasser. The “attractive nuisance” doctrine demands landowners to repair dangerous conditions in areas that may be frequented by children. For instance, a swimming pool requires a higher duty of care to protect a child trespasser.
Usual premises liability lawsuits involve:
- -Wild animals’ attacks or dog bites.
- -Slip and fall accidents.
- -Inadequate Security.
- -Negligent or inadequate maintenance.
- -Swimming pool injury.
- -Children injured on the property.
- -Restaurant liability and
- -retail Store liability, mentioning just a few.
There is a question that a premise liability attorney frequently hears. What happens when injuries occur at commercial properties that are leased or at apartment complexes?
As a rule of thumb, a landlord is not responsible for what happens to a tenant´s guest. It is presumed that the tenant is the one in control of the property´s conditions. Nevertheless, exceptions may apply. Latent defects, for instance, are hidden, concealed dangerous conditions that existed before the tenant took possession of the property. Also, when the landlord undertakes the responsibility of making all repairs for a tenant, such repairs must be done in a proper, conscious manner.
Sometimes it can be confusing to determine if liability applies or not, or at which degree depending on the plaintiff´s categorization as trespasser, licensee or invitee. Fortunately, some experienced professionals are entirely dedicated to these complex legal matters. Consult a premise liability attorney, and clearly explain him all the situation.