Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?
People visiting and entering your property have reasonable expectations of not suffering injury. This is why you are responsible for maintaining a safe environment on your property. This is what is meant by “premises liability.”
If someone delivering a package slips and falls on your driveway, he or she can sue you for injuries and related damages. But if the courier is intoxicated when the accident happens or is otherwise unsafe, the claim may not be valid.
Slip and fall accidents are common types of premises liability cases. Other injuries include those suffered from use of the property, such as an injury on an amusement park ride. All of these injury cases may lead to premises liability, under the legal theory that property owners, managers and residents are liable for accidents and injuries occurring on their property.
The laws and procedures of your state determine liability. Some states determine liability through the status of the injured visitor. Other states determine liability by focusing on the property condition and activities of both the visitor and the owner. In many situations of property liability, the occupier of the land, such as a tenant, is treated similarly to a landowner.
Visitor Legal Status: Invitee, Licensee, or Trespasser?
There are four different types of visitors to a property. These types apply in states focusing only on the status of the visitor in determining liability. Those statuses include invitee, social guest, licensee and trespasser.
- A store customer is a good example of an invitee. They are invited onto the property of another. This invitation implies the owner or possessor of the property has taken reasonable measures in assuring the visitor’s safety on the premises.
- A social guest is a welcome visitor. This person is present at the owner’s consent, under a promise of reasonable care.
- Licensees are on the property for his or her own purpose. There is no implied promise of reasonable care.
- Trespassers enter against the owner’s consent, without any right whatsoever. Trespassers have no implied promise of reasonable care.
Property Condition and Visitor Activities
When states consider both property condition and visitor activities, both invitees and licensees have an implied promise of uniform standard of care. This means the owner is required to exercise reasonable care for the visitor’s safety. This is not true for trespassers.
Numerous factors must be examined to determine whether an owner meets the standard of reasonable care toward licensees and invitees. These factors include:
- Circumstances under which the visitor enters the property
- Visitor’s use of the property
- Foreseeability of the accident or injury
- Whether the owner put forth reasonable effort to repair dangerous conditions and warn visitors
If trespassers are likely on a property, the owner may be charged with a duty to provide reasonable warning for prevention of injury. This duty applies to artificial conditions under the owner’s creation or maintenance, where it is known the conditions are likely to cause injury or death.
Children Visiting the Property
Children require a different standard of care than adults. For children, a landowner’s duty extends to children not authorized to be on the property. That owner or possessor must provide warnings if he or she expects children might come onto the property where a dangerous condition is likely to cause injury or death.
Fault for Both Parties
An owner’s or possessor’s liability is limited when the injured person holds partial fault for the injury or death. A visitor has their own duty to be reasonably careful toward his or her own safety. When this care does not exist, the plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced due to his or her own negligence.
Comparative fault is a system used in many states’ personal injury cases. This means an injured party’s legal damages are reduced by the percentage to which he or she is at fault in their own injuries. If it is determined that a person holds 25 percent of fault for their own injuries, that party will only receive 75 percent of the total damages.
Special Rules for Lessors and Landlords
Some special rules of liability apply in some cases. For example, a lessor is not liable to a lessee or any other party injured by conditions on the property. This is because the lessor loses control over the property once a lessee enters a lease. But there are exceptions to this rule and other rules of liability.
Get Free Legal Help for a Premises Liability Injury
When you or someone you love have suffered premises liability injury, you need the help of an experienced premises liability attorney. This lawyer works to ensure your legal rights to compensation are protected and that you receive the compensation you are owed for your injuries.
In Arizona, call a premises liability lawyer for a free, no-obligation case consultation. Your lawyer may accept your case on a contingency basis. This means you owe no money to the lawyer until your case is settled or won.