What New Homeowners Should Know About Premise Liability

The breakdown of the words “premise liability” practically describe the definition of the term - premise essentially means property in this case, and liability means responsibility especially in regards to legal or financial matters. In the case of personal injury, if a piece of property is not adequately cared for and maintained, the owner could be held legally or financially responsible for that injury. This responsibility is typically the product of determining that property owner to be negligent.

Establishing Liability

Establishing that a property owner as negligent is rooted in the reasonable expectation that they should be aware of certain unsafe conditions of the property. Common negligence cases have to do with issues such as inclement weather like ice and snow, poor conditions like broken handrails, a faltering structure like a weak balcony, or even toxic chemical exposure. Premise liability is far from exclusive to homeowners. This applies to public building structures as well as elevators and roller coasters. The property owner can be held liable for injuries that occurred on their premises even if they themselves never use or even visit these premises.

Personal Property Cases

Many personal property cases may involve issues like an icy walkway or a loose balcony, where publicly accessed property like that of a private business may face liability for issues related to things like a mopped floor with no sign. The level of responsibility to the property owner also can depend on the classification of the visitor. If the visitor is a licensee, the property owner has a different level of responsibility than if they are an invitee or a trespasser. A person renting their home could be held under similar liabilities as the owner when it comes to the injury of invitees. However, as Craig Swapp points out, you are not responsible for injuries from open and obvious dangers.

In some rental agreements, the landlord may include a clause of liability to protect themselves from being sued for negligence. A recent news story that illustrated the complications of liability was of a woman who tried to sue her 12-year old nephew for breaking her wrist. The woman felt she had a case because the boy caused her injury on the property that his family occupied.

Understanding premise liability and what precautions to take around it is essential for any property owner. You need to keep your property in good repair and make sure that you address any problems quickly. Not only will this be good for your family, it will keep you from being held liable in the case of an accident.


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