Premises Liability FAQs

Q: What is premises liability?

A: Premises liability is an area of law that governs the duties of property owners and occupiers, protecting entrants from harmful conditions or defects on the property.

Q: What is a licensee?

A: A licensee is an individual who goes onto a property with the expressed or implied permission of the landowner or occupier, but is there for his or her own purposes, rather than for the benefit of the landowner or occupier. An example of a licensee would be a social guest.

Q: While at a friend’s house, I was injured. Can I get compensation for my injuries?

A: Since you were a social guest, under common law you would be considered a licensee. Under this classification, your friend had a duty to warn you of any dangerous conditions present on the property that could cause you harm, that the friend noticed, but unlikely to be discovered by you. If there was a hidden condition that injured you, like a broken step that your friend knew of, but failed to warn you about, you could seek compensation for your injuries.

Q: What is an invitee?

A: An invitee is someone who comes to a property because the property owner or occupier extended an implied or expressed invitation. For example a property that is open to the public, such as a church, museum or airport, those who enter would be considered invitees. Another example would be individuals who go onto a property for purposes tied to the occupier or owner, such as customers, delivery personnel and employees.

Q: While at the grocery store, my child slipped and fell and was injured. Can I seek compensation for her injuries?

A: Customers within a grocery store are considered invitees. The grocery store is held responsible for using reasonable and ordinary care to maintain a safe store for customers. The store is also responsible for having reasonable inspections to locate dangerous conditions, like spills, so that they can be fixed. However, if the spilled liquid or food was visible for your child to see, then there is no obligation for the store to warn you. However, there is the “attractive display” doctrine, which indicates that spilled food may not be obvious if a store’s display distracted the child from seeing the spill on the floor.

Q: In a premises liability case, who are potential responsible parties?

A: There are various people and entities that can be held responsible for injuries in a premises liability case. For starters, the property owner. Other parties that can be held responsible include landlords, tenants, security guards or companies that are responsible for patrolling the property, property management companies that were supposed to maintain the property and third parties who commit intentional or criminal actions that caused injury to the plaintiff while on someone else’s property.

Q: If a criminal attack happens by a third party and injures someone who is on a business property, can the business owner be held liable?

A: In the event that you are the victim of a criminal attack that results in injury, while on a commercial property, typically, that business isn’t held liable for your injuries. That’s unless the business should have foreseen the crime taking place. For instance, if there were various criminal attacks in the past, you could say that the attack was foreseeable. In this case, the business owner could be held liable, since it had the duty to use reasonable care to protect entrants from foreseeable crimes.

Q: What is negligence per se?

A: For certain situations, a statute or regulation typically defines the applicable standards of care required. A violation of that statue could constitute negligence per se. The reasonable person standard is replaced by the statutory standard of care in the concept of ordinary negligence. In order for a statutory duty of care to be applied, the following elements have to be met: it must be clearly defined by the regulation or statute what the required standard of conduct is; the regulation or statute must be intended to stop the type of harm that was caused by the act of the defendant; the regulation or statute must be designed to protect the class of persons that the plaintiff was; the violation of the statute or regulation must be the cause of the injury.

Q: What damages can I seek to gain recovery for in a premises liability case?

A: Since premises liability cases are similar to any other personal injury case, plaintiffs are able to seek compensation for out-of-pocket expenses, like for medical bills, physical therapy, prescription meds and medical equipment. You can also seek to recover for damages like lost wages, mental distress, pain and suffering and physical impairment.

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