Premises liability is a concept in the legal field that usually arises in personal injury cases where an injury was caused by a type of unsafe or faulty condition on one’s property. Many personal injury cases are built on negligence, and premises liability cases are no exception.

What is Premises Liability Law?

Premises liability law refers to the legal principle that holds property owners and/or occupants responsible when someone comes onto their property and gets hurt because of a dangerous condition. With few exceptions, premises liability cases are based on negligence; however, the notion may be applied differently in other personal injury situations. The primary source of premises liability law is state case precedents, known as “common law,” however, state statutes, city ordinances, and local building codes may also be pertinent.

A premises liability lawsuit holds the owner of the property in which an injury occurred responsible for any danger suffered on that person or entity’s property. Simply put, property owners have an obligation under local, state, and federal laws to maintain a reasonably safe environment and warn others of any unsafe conditions under certain situations that may cause harm. While these laws vary, the basic underlying fact is similar regardless of where you reside: property owners must keep their land and the buildings on their land safe for authorized visitors and those with business there.

Premises Liability Case Examples

Failure to keep the property safe frequently results in a “premises liability.” Common situations that may lead to premises liability lawsuits include:

  • Slip and fall cases
  • Defective stairwells/ staircase accidents
  • Electricity and electrocution
  • Defective sidewalks
  • Insufficient security
  • Dog bites or animal attacks
  • Falling or flying objects
  • Ceiling collapse
  • Elevation accidents
  • Fire safety & building codes
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Supermarket & department store accidents
  • & more

As you can see, premises liability cases include a wide variety of fact scenarios. Even dog bite cases fall under this umbrella due to unsafe conditions on someone’s property. 

If you do not see the cause of your premises liability case above, it does not mean that you do not have a case. Please contact The Cochran Firm’s experienced premises liability attorneys today for a free, no-obligation consultation.

 Common Premises Liability Injuries

Although premises liability cases are usually not as dramatic or noticeable as automobile or truck accidents, they can still cause the same type of severe injuries or worse—death. Many premises liability clients deal with pain and suffering from their injuries for the rest of their lives. 

Some of the most common injuries sustained in a premises liability case include:

If you do not see the injury you have suffered due to someone else’s negligence it does not mean you do not have a premises liability case. 

No one should have to suffer from another person’s negligence. Call The Cochran Firm today to speak with one of our experienced premises liability lawyers to help you pursue justice and receive compensation for the injuries that you have suffered.

Who Can Recover For Premises Liability?

Rules on who may recover for premises liability and under which conditions vary state to state. Some states focus on the status of the person visiting the property to decide whether liability is suitable. The status of a visitor in those particular states is typically invitee, licensee, or trespasser.

An invitee is someone that has the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property. Invitees are generally people like family members, friends, and neighbors. For commercial purposes, invitees are typically customers. Still, the property owner has a duty to the invitee to keep the property reasonably safe for the invitee. 

A licensee is someone that has the property owner’s express or implied permission to enter the property but is coming onto the property for their own purposes. Licensees are typically individuals like salespeople. The property owner traditionally owes a licensee a lesser duty only to warn them of the potentially dangerous conditions that create an unreasonable risk of harm if:

  • The property owner is aware of the condition and
  • The licensee is not likely to be able to locate it.

A trespasser is someone who is not authorized to be on the property. However, in some cases, when an owner knows there will likely be a trespasser, it is required to give reasonable warnings of dangers that are not obvious to trespassers. Typically, the exception to this rule is child trespassers, who may get involved with an “attractive nuisance,” like a swimming pool, and therefore are owed a higher duty of care.

An owner or resident must inspect the property regularly to find dangerous conditions and either fix them or post a warning so that legal visitors are not injured. Any property owner that fails to meet this duty, such as being aware of a dangerous condition and failing to warn visitors, can be held liable for any injuries visitors suffered from lack of warning. 

You may be thinking, “are there limitations on recovering for premises liability?” And the answer is yes. Many states follow the basis of comparative fault in premises liability cases, meaning an injured person who is partially or entirely responsible for injuries suffered cannot recover for damages that arose out of a dangerous property condition. A visitor has the responsibility to use reasonable care to keep themselves safe. If the visitor fails to use reasonable care, their percentage of fault can potentially reduce their recovery.

Who is Responsible?

Property owners have an obligation to maintain a safe environment for when people come onto their land, so they do not suffer an injury. This obligation, also known as “premises liability,” holds property owners liable for any injury or accident that occurs on their property. 

Responsibility is determined by different things in different states. Some states focus on the status of the visitor, whereas others focus on the condition of the property and the actions of the owner and the visitor.

In states that focus on the condition of the property and actions of the owner/visitor, a uniform standard of care is applied equally to an invitee and licensees. However, that uniform standard of care is not extended to trespassers. When deciding whether the standard of care that is required by a property owner toward a licensee (and some states both an invitee and licensee) has been met requires the inspection of a variety of factors, including:

  • Conditions under which the visitor enters the property,
  • What the property is being used for,
  • Foreseeability of the accident or injury, and
  • Reasonableness of the property owner/possessor’s effort to fix any dangerous conditions or warn visitors of the dangerous condition.

When a trespasser is on a property, the owner only has a duty to give warning to prevent injuries if there are artificial conditions that the property owner has created or maintains (e.g., swimming pools). If warning is given, the trespasser will most likely be liable. If warning is not given, the trespasser may not be liable. 

One of the most commonly used restrictions on a property owner’s liability is the argument that the injured person is partially responsible. A visitor is required to exercise reasonable care for their own safety, and when that care is not exercised, the injured person’s recovery is sometimes limited or reduced by their negligence. Most states stick to a “comparative fault” system, meaning that an injured person’s legal damages will be reduced by a percentage equal to their fault for the incident.

In order for a property owner to be responsible, an injured party must prove that the owner was at fault in some way. There must be concrete evidence that the owner either created the hazard or allowed the hazardous condition to remain on their property to establish a claim.

What Happens If Someone is Injured on My Property?

If an invitee, licensee, or trespasser is injured while on your property, it is likely, they will bring a personal injury lawsuit against you. Whether you will be held liable or not depends on how the visitor was injured and what their status on your property was. For instance, you would be more likely to be liable for an invitee or licensee injuries than for a trespasser’s injuries.

The law requires property owners to maintain their property in a reasonably safe manner. If the property owner does not do so, they most likely will be held liable for negligence. Liability on private property is typically higher for those invited onto the property than those who were trespassing (or uninvited). 

As long as you make your guests aware of any dangerous hazards you are aware of on your property, you most likely will not be held liable for any injuries that occur on your land. If you are a property owner and are unsure of what to do after someone has been injured on your property, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to determine the duty of care you owe. Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys at The Cochran Firm for a free, no-obligation consultation today. 

How Does a Premises Liability Case Work?

First, the plaintiff needs to show that they have been injured. This can be done through testimony, whether it is a testimony from a treating doctor or the plaintiff’s testimony. A plaintiff can also provide medical bills and expert testimony regarding their injuries, the extent of their medical treatment, and how the injuries and continuous medical care will affect certain aspects of their life.

Once the plaintiff has proven their injuries, they must prove that: 

  • The person causing the injury owned, occupied, or leased the property
  • The defendant was negligent in the use of the property
  • The plaintiff has suffered injuries, and
  • The property owner’s (defendant) negligence was a significant factor in causing the injury.

When proving that the defendant’s negligence played a role in causing your injuries, it’s important to show that the harm that was suffered was reasonably foreseeable. The defendant’s negligence does not need to be the only cause of the injury, but it must have significantly contributed to the injury.

No matter what the premises liability case may be, it is crucial to have an experienced attorney to help navigate the legal process. The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are here to help. Our premises liability lawyers will investigate your injury to determine its cause, then pursue compensation on your behalf for your injuries. In deciding whether or not you should bring a case for premises liability, it is crucial to make sure that the property owner knew the faulty condition or was so evident that it should have been known by them. 

You should not have to suffer in silence. We’ll be your voice in this challenging and traumatic time.

Why Choose The Cochran Firm 

The attorneys at The Cochran Firm are among the nation’s most successful and tenacious attorneys. When navigating through the legal process, you deserve to have an experienced attorney by your side. The Cochran Firm attorneys know how to fight for you. 

Here at The Cochran Firm, our experienced attorneys are ready to help you or someone you love that has suffered from a premises liability case. Our attorneys work closely with each of our clients using pooled resources and their access to legal expertise to ensure the most effective legal representation available is provided. 

You need the help of an experienced attorney who has proven successful results in other similar cases to guide you through the process and help you to receive the monetary damages you are entitled to under the law. At The Cochran Firm, we have the offices, the experience, the results, and the resources to aid clients throughout the United States.

If you’re looking for an experienced premises liability lawyer to help you pursue justice and obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries, please contact our attorneys at The Cochran Firm today for your free, no-obligation initial consultation today.