Any injury suffered because of the negligence of a property owner, operator, or manager may potentially become a premises liability case. Generally, in order to bring a premises liability claim, the injured person must show that he or she was legally present on the property, the owner had a duty to keep the property safe and failed, or breached, that duty, and as a result of that negligence, an injury was sustained.
Many, but not all, premises liability cases involve slip and fall or trip and fall accidents, which accounted for approximately 8.9 million visits to hospital emergency departments in the United States in 2011, according to the National Safety Council. Generally, most slip and falls happen because of one or more of the following factors:
- Physical factors – The lack of a proper handrail on a stairway, foreign objects left on the floor, and slippery floors or loose carpeting cause a person to fall. An accumulation of ice or snow on a sidewalk is one of the most common physical factors that can result in a slip and fall accident during the winter.
- Environmental factors – Visual distractions, color patterns and geometric designs on a floor can all contribute to a fall. For instance, the edges of stairs can be difficult to see and can cause a person to misstep and fall unless they are painted with contrasting paint in a bright color.
- Personal factors – Poor vision, excessive weight, or even improper or damaged footwear can cause a person to trip and fall. However, personal factors may prevent recovery in a premises liability case unless negligence on the part of the property owner was also a contributing factor to the injury.
Fault in Premises Liability Cases
Those most likely to find themselves defending a premises liability lawsuit include the owners and/or managers of:
- Apartment buildings
- Shopping centers
- Retail stores
- Sports stadiums
- Movie theaters
A landlord has a duty to ensure that his property is free of structural problems or other issues that may cause injury to shoppers, tenants, invitees, or anyone else who visits his property. He is also typically responsible for making sure that reasonable security measures are in place on his property to protect people from injury. Premises liability cases can happen inside or outside and in private residences as well as public places.
What Should I do if I’m Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
As with any potentially serious injury, you should first seek medical attention and file an accident report before leaving the premises, if possible. If you can, take some photos and preserve any evidence you have of the scene, and obtain contact information from any witnesses to the incident. If you can show evidence that your injury resulted from the negligence of the property owner regarding the maintenance of his property, you may have the elements of a premises liability claim.