Understanding Premises Liability Basics

Sustaining an injury on someone else’s property or business may entitle you to compensation. Here are some things that you should know about premises liability basics.

The Duty of Care

All negligence claims are predicated on the principle that people owe one another duties of care. Drivers owe one another a duty of care to drive safely and obey traffic laws. Doctors owe patients a duty to provide competent and attentive treatment. Likewise, property owners owe the people who come onto their property a duty to keep the premises safe.

Who Is Owed a Duty of Care?

The nature of the duty of care in the context of premises liability may depend on the relationship between the injured party and the property owner. There are several categories into which a person who is on another person’s property may fall into. Traditionally, the three categories are invitees, licensees, and trespassers. An invitee is someone who a property owner invites and encourages to be present on the premises. A patron at a supermarket or a guest at someone’s home, for example, are generally considered an invitee in most jurisdictions. A licensee is someone who has the authority to be on someone else’s property but is typically there for her or her own benefit. A person who has permission to be on someone’s property to take a shortcut, for instance, is probably an invitee. A trespasser is generally present on someone else’s property without the person’s permission or knowledge. In some jurisdictions, however, even trespassers are owed a duty of care. An injury attorney can help you understand the specific duty of care owed to you by the owner or manager of the property where you sustained an injury.

What Creates Liability?  

The fact that you sustained an injury in a specific location does not necessarily mean that the person or business entity that owns or manages the property is liable for your injuries. This is a contrast to workers’ compensation coverage which extends benefits simply because they occur while someone is on the job. While premises liability claims also fall under the scope of insurance programs, the nature of this type of coverage is fundamentally different. They are more geared towards protecting businesses and property owners from claims arising out of negligence.

In effect, it is necessary to demonstrate negligence by establishing that whoever was responsible for making a property reasonably safe failed to do so. You must also show that the failure resulted in your injuries.

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