What is premises liability?
Premises liability law is an area of personal injury law that holds negligent property owners responsible when others are hurt on their property, be it a parking lot, grocery store, restaurant, bar, concert venue, apartment complex, or school, to name just a few examples. The owners of just about any type of property can be subject to a premises liability lawsuit.
Every property owner has a legal duty to keep their property reasonably safe for others, whether they’re invited guests or visitors. Property owners also have a duty to warn others of any known dangers on the property. Injuries caused by the failure to do either or both these things form the legal basis of premises liability lawsuits.
To bring your case to a successful resolution, a premises liability lawyer must establish certain legal elements:
- Duty of Care: This concerns the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. Our premises liability lawyers must be able to prove that the defendant owed you a reasonable duty of care (responsibility) not to cause you or others harm.
- Breach of duty: Once we establish duty, we must prove that the defendant failed to meet a level of standard care with their premises, which resulted in the injury to you or a family member.
- Causation: We must be able to demonstrate the property owner’s conduct or omissions caused the accident that injured you or your family.
- Proximate cause: Our premises liability lawyers must also establish a direct correlation between the property owner’s alleged failure to protect others, the injury that resulted from it, and whether that harm was foreseeable.
- Harm/Damages: Finally, our negligence lawyers must be able to show that the defendant’s negligence resulted in actual damages for you or a family member.
Business Invitees, Business Licensees, and Trespassers
Another factor that can determine the outcome of a case, including the amount of any settlement or award, is why you were on the property. Business owners invite you onto their property because of their commercial interests. They want to make a profit. Therefore, they are held to a higher standard.
If you are not a business invitee, you may have been on the property as a business licensee – someone invited onto the property for social reasons. Property owners ordinarily don’t have a duty of care to keep their property safe to trespassers, nor do they usually have a duty to warn trespassers about known dangers. However, the owner of the premises does have a duty to avoid unreasonably or intentionally harming a trespasser.
Trespassing children are another matter. In that case, the legal doctrine of attractive nuisance comes into play. Under this doctrine, property owners have a duty to properly guard or keep their premises free of attractive nuisances, such as a swimming pool. If a child wanders onto a property with a pool and gets hurt or drowns in the pool, the property owner could be held liable.
Negligent security is an area of premises liability law that generally holds a property owner liable for injuries and financial damages suffered by customers or visitors due to inadequate security measures. As the word “security” implies, these premises liability cases involve injury or death caused by crime.
You may wonder why a property or business owner would be held liable for injuries caused by others. Usually this is because the property in question has had a long history of crime and the owners failed to take adequate crime-prevention measures.
Foreseeability is also a factor. Our premises liability lawyers often find property owners should have foreseen a crime would occur given the history of previous crime on the property. Other examples of problems include a lack of lighting, lack of an electronic surveillance system, no security guards or patrols, broken or faulty locks, unattended security gates, and so on.
Property owners are not the only ones who may be liable for negligent security-related injuries. Others who may share blame are:
- Security companies contracted to provide security guards or surveillance
- Parking lot management companies
- State and municipal governments
- Property management companies
- Landscaping companies
If you or a family member have been harmed on commercial or residential property due to negligent security issues, you should contact our premises liability attorneys as soon as possible. We will evaluate and discuss your claim and fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact a Premises Liability Attorney
We live by our creed of “helping those who need it most” and have helped thousands of clients get the justice they desperately needed and deserved. If you feel you have a case or just have questions please contact us for a free consultation. There is no risk and no fees unless we win for you.
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