Premises liability is a legal concept that is used in
personal injury cases in which a person is injured on another person’s property
due to the presence of an unsafe condition. From
slip and falls on icy walkways to
dog bites, premises liability cases are primarily based on the negligence of a property
owner to fulfill their duty to reasonably seek and fix any potential hazards
that may harm visitors, employees, or even trespassers that may be present
on their property. But while many accidents can and will happen, under
what circumstances does a person have grounds to sue a property owner?
Valid premises liability claims satisfy the following requirements:
- The defendant owned, occupied, or leased the property
- The defendant was negligent in the use of the property
- The plaintiff was harmed
- The defendant’s negligence played a major role in causing the harm
First, the defendant must have had control over the property in some way,
either as its owner, tenant, or occupant. In many good premises liability
cases, it is made clear that the defendant had a duty to inspect and maintain
the property to ensure its safety for its intended use.
The second element is that the defendant needs to have acted negligently
in some fashion regarding the use of the property. In modern law, liability
has mainly been based on whether a property owner knew or should have
known about a particular hazard on their property, yet failed to take
action to remedy the situation or warn of the issue’s presence.
For example, if the owner of a grocery store has knowledge of a plumbing
leak in the produce section that causes water to pool in a certain area,
but he or she fails to get the issue fixed or even place a wet floor sign
to warn customers, they will likely be held responsible if a customer
should slip and fall.
Third, the plaintiff must actually suffer some type of meaningful harm.
In continuation of the previous example, if the customer’s fall
only resulted in a minor bruise, they likely will not have grounds to
sue. On the other hand, if the fall caused the customer to fracture their
hip, they will have a much more compelling claim.
Finally, the defendant’s act of negligence must have been a substantial
factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries, with the plaintiff’s
harm having been reasonably foreseeable as a result of the defendant’s
action or inaction. Again, in relation to the grocery store example, one
would reasonably be able to assume that a wet floor would lead to a possible
slip and fall without proper signage or maintenance.
Injured? Call (785) 227-9105
If you have been injured on another person or party’s property through
no fault of your own, our team of Topeka personal injury attorneys at
Palmer Law Group LLP can represent your interests and fight to recover
full and fair financial compensation on your behalf. Having recovered
more than $60 million on behalf of injured clients since 2000, we have
the track record and skills to maximize your chances of securing the results you need.
Schedule a no-cost case review today to get started. If we do not win, you do not pay!