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Who Is Responsible in A Premises Liability Claim?

Nichol & Associates, Attorneys at Law Oct. 2, 2018

Imagine suffering an injury on someone else’s property. Perhaps you had a fall due to a wet floor or tripped on ripped carpet. A bad fall can easily result in thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages and various other damages. After such an incident, you may be wondering who is responsible? Should you take full responsibility for suffering an injury when a property owner did not reasonably maintain the premises?

Like with most legal questions, the answer to the one above is variable. The specific circumstances surrounding personal injury cases usually have a heavy bearing on who is at fault. Here is some basic information about premises liability claims and responsibility.

Visitor Status

A visitor to someone else’s property typically falls into four different categories. You could be an invitee, social guest, licensee or a trespasser. An invitee enters another person’s property through an invitation. For instance, when you walk into your favorite Knoxville department store as a customer, you are an invitee and the owner of the store has a responsibility to provide a reasonably safe property.

A licensee will enter property with the permission of the owner but for the licensee’s own purposes. A social guest also enters property with the owner’s consent but as a welcome visitor.

A trespasser will enter a property without permission or any right to do so. Typically, in the case of trespassers and licensees, the property owner does not owe any special consideration to make sure the property is safe. On the other hand, the property owner does owe a duty to both an invitee and a social guest to provide a safe environment.

Standard of Reasonableness

When a court is examining a premises liability claim, it will look at various factors surrounding the case. For instance, the court will assess the type of circumstances that were involved in the injured party entering the property. Another factor that will play a part in the case is how the property is used. Also, the court will look at whether the owner should have known that there was a reasonable chance of someone suffering an accident and if the owner made any efforts to correct a potentially dangerous situation.

Sharing Fault

In many cases, property owners are able to limit responsibility for a claim by arguing that the person who suffered the accident was partially at fault. For example, if an individual legally enters property, such as the department store from the above example, and willfully ignores caution signs and suffers an injury as a result, then the property owner may not be wholly responsible. In general, the law requires that an individual exercise a reasonable level of care for his or her own safety.

If you have suffered an injury due to an accident on someone else’s property, you have options. You might be able to file a premises liability claim for the compensation you deserve for your injuries, loss of wages and other damages.