Can I make a claim if I was injured on someone's property?
If you legally enter another person's property or a business there is an expectation that the property has been properly maintained and is relatively safe. This is known as premises liability. Under some conditions, if the property has not been adequately maintained or the owner does not perform certain duties, they may be responsible for accidents and injuries that occur on their property.
How will the courts determine liability if there is an injury on another person's property? They will review the condition of the property and the activities of both the owner and the visitor. For instance, in some states the court will determine if the visitor is an invitee or a social guest who is invited onto the property, a licensee who enters for their own purpose with the owner's consent, or a trespasser who enters without a legal right or invitations.
Some states, which evaluate the status of the guest, assume if the visitor is a licensee or a trespasser there is no implied promise that reasonable care has been made to keep the property safe; other states allow that the invitees, social guests, and licensees have an implied promise of reasonable care while the trespasser does not.
What is the duty of the owner of the property?
Assuming the guest is not a trespasser, most other visitors can generally make the assumption that the owner of the property will take reasonable care to ensure their property is safe. Reasonable standard of care requires the owner to inspect the property and identify dangerous conditions and either repair them or post warnings as appropriate. Owners who fail to fix or warn about dangerous conditions can be responsible for the injuries of guests.
What factors will the courts consider when determining the liability of the owner?
- How the visitor entered the property
- How the property is used
- Whether the accident was foreseeable
- Whether the property owner repaired the dangerous condition or gave sufficient warning to the visitor
When Both Parties are at Fault
States have different laws for determining how to allocate damages in personal injury or premise liability cases. In some premise liability cases the property owner can prove that the injured party is at least partially responsible for their own injuries because they failed to exercise reasonable care.
If the plaintiff is found to be partially responsible for their injuries the courts may limit, reduce or eliminate compensation. The amount of compensation awarded will be determined by whether the state uses a comparative negligence or contributory negligence system for allocating damages in a personal injury case.
If you have been injured due to unsafe conditions on another person's property or at a business you can talk to an injury lawyer for more information. Premise liability laws are complex and may vary for children and landlords.
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