When we're home, we know our property well. We know if a wood floor is creaky, if a stair is wobbly, or if a tile is broken. Since we're familiar with our surroundings, we know whether our home is safe, and if there is an unsafe condition, we know to avoid it.
Once we step outside our door, we have no way of knowing if another person's home, or a business is safe. With a false sense of security, we tend to assume that other properties are safe, but safety is not guaranteed.
In the United States, lawmakers have enacted laws that hold property owners financially responsible when unsafe conditions cause visitors to sustain injuries. These laws are called "premises liability laws" and they exist for good reason.
Since visitors have no way of knowing if a dangerous property condition exists, property owners are expected to promptly remedy such conditions so visitors don't gets hurt. This especially applies businesses.
Filing a Premises Liability Lawsuit
If someone is visiting another's property (private residence, business, or government building) and they are injured because of a dangerous or hazardous condition, they may have grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit, which is a type of personal injury claim.
However, just because someone is injured on another's property, it does not mean the property owner is automatically liable. It comes down to the theory of "negligence." In other words, if the property owner was negligent in keeping their premises safe, they may be liable for the plaintiff's injuries.
If the following is true, you may have a premises liability case:
- The property owner knew about the dangerous condition and failed to fix it, or
- The property owner didn't know about the dangerous condition, but enough time elapsed that they should have known about it and taken care of it, and
- You were invited or allowed to be on the premises (e.g. an invitee, or a customer), you were not trespassing.
If the dangerous condition just happened and the property owner didn't learn about it yet, or they didn't have sufficient time to remedy the situation, they may not be liable. However, if you can prove that the property owner knew about it and did nothing, or they should have known about it and did nothing, you may have grounds for a premises liability claim.
Looking for a personal injury attorney to file your premises liability claim? If so, scroll through our directory to find a lawyer near you!