When an individual is injured because of slipping or falling on private property, there are certain conditions that must be met before they can receive compensation for their injuries. Success in civil litigation will depend upon a slip and fall attorney who has extensive knowledge of premises liability law. Since these laws vary from state to state, local variations of the law must also be considered. Liability for accidents on private property will depend on the actions of the owner or controller of the property, and the nature of the visit when the incident occurred.
Who Is Responsible for Preventing Slip and Fall Accidents on Private Property?
In short, the entity in control of the property is responsible for keeping it safe for visitors. This may mean the owner of the property if it is owner occupied or unoccupied, or the person or business that is in possession and control of the property. For example, a store may not own the property it leases, but it will be liable for an unsafe condition inside the store that leads to an accident.
How Does the Nature of the Plaintiff's Visit Affect the Liability of the Owner of the Property?
Legally, a visitor who is injured on private property can be classified in three different ways. Each classification determines liability in a different way. These three classes include:
- Individuals who enter or remain on private property for commercial reasons, such as shopping in a store.
If a person in injured in a slip and fall accident during this type of visit, they must prove that the proprietor was aware of an excessive risk of an accident, and that they did nothing to protect or warn the customer.
For example: A container of milk is spilled in a grocery store and it is left on the floor without plastic cones or other warning devices and a customer slips and sustains an injury. The business will be liable only if it can be proven that they were aware of the hazard and failed to act. It is difficult to prove in court that the store knew that someone had spilled milk on the floor. However, the store is liable for general safety, and a skilled slip and fall attorney can attempt to prove that the store didn't conduct frequent safety inspections of the property.
- Persons entering private property for social or personal reasons
Friends or acquaintances who are injured after entering a property for non-commercial reasons can seek compensation only if the property owner knew about the unsafe condition and didn't attempt to correct it or warn the visitor. The visitor must also have had no prior awareness of the safety hazard. Unless all three of these conditions are present, then the owner is not liable.
- Those who are trespassing on private property
Property owners or possessors generally have no liability for injuries to trespassers, unless they are aware of their presence and fail to warn them of an unsafe condition that leads to a slip and fall incident.
Property owners or possessors are liable for unsafe conditions on their premises even if they hire a private contractor to maintain their property. They cannot delegate liability to anyone else. Parking lots and sidewalks in front of private properties must also be kept clean and free of snow, ice, and debris. The maximum time that snow or ice may remain on a public sidewalk is determined by local jurisdictions. Liability for accidents will increase if a sidewalk is not cleared within the time allowed. For more information, contact Putnam Lieb.