Premises liability comes into play when an injury is caused by unsafe conditions or defective equipment on someone else's property. Here are the top five things you should know if you're dealing with a premises liability case.
1. ESTABLISHING LIABILITY INVOLVES ESTABLISHING NEGLIGENCE.
This type of liability has its roots in negligence law. For a more in-depth look at negligence law, see our previous blog post. In order to prove fault in a premises liability case, you first have to prove that the property owner was negligent in regards to the property, be it a maintenance issue or otherwise.
2. INJURY DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL NEGLECT.
Just because the property is in an unsafe condition does not necessarily mean the landowner was at fault. They are only at fault if they knew or should have known about the condition of the property and failed to do anything about it.
3. YOUR REASON FOR BEING ON THE PROPERTY AFFECTS YOUR CASE.
In the state of Utah, a landowner's duty of care varies depending on the status of the visitor. This is the case in many other states, although some apply the same conditions to all people regardless of their status.
An invitee is someone who has express or implied permission to be on the property. The property owner has the responsibility of making the property reasonably safe for invitees.
A licensee is someone who also has expressed or implied permission to be on the property but enters the property for their own specific purposes. A salesman is an example of a licensee - someone who may not have been previously invited but whose presence is acceptable. The property owner has less of a responsibility to a licensee. Generally, they must warn of dangerous conditions if they may harm the licensee and the licensee is not likely to become aware of the condition on their own.
4. TRESPASSERS ARE OWED A DUTY OF CARE ONLY IN SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Traditionally, trespassers are owed no duty of care if they are injured on another's property unless the trespasser is a child. Property owners are expected to avoid any foreseeable risk of harm to any children who might wander onto the property. This is why fencing in your backyard swimming pool is a must even if no children live in the home.
In the state of Utah, adult trespassers can only sue if the landowner has acted maliciously with intent to harm. An example of this might be putting bear traps on the lawn.
Premises Liability can exist in many different cases including dog bites, elevator and escalator accidents, assaults stemming from inadequate building security, water leaks or flooding, and toxic fumes or chemicals just to name a few. Speak with one of our lawyers today to see how premises liability affects your case.