When you enter a store in the mall, the supermarket or even your friend’s apartment in Garden City, you expect to exit in the same condition. In other words, you don’t expect to trip over loose carpet or slip on a wet tile and break a bone. Unfortunately, these kinds of accidents sometimes happen.
When a visitor to someone else’s property suffers an accident, premises liability comes into play. Here are a few things you should know about premises liability if you have an accident while in a store, in someone’s home or on government property.
In general, there are four different statuses that a visitor to someone else’s property can have: invitee, social guest, licensee or trespasser. An invitee is someone who enters the property due to an invitation from the owner. For example, a customer in a supermarket is an invitee. A licensee comes on the property for their own reasons but at the consent of the owner. A social guest is exactly what it sounds like, a person who was welcomed by the owner to visit the property. Trespassers enter the property without any rights to do so and without the consent of the owner.
In most situations, the property owner owes a certain duty to invitees, social guests, and licensees to keep the property reasonably safe and free from hazards. Anyone who is not a trespasser should expect the property owner to exercise a uniform standard of care for their safety.
When an accident happens on someone’s property, the court examines various factors, including:
- How the visitor entered the property
- The way the owner uses the property
- The foreseeability of the incident
- Whether the owner has taken reasonable steps to limit hazards and dangerous conditions
In many cases, the property owner will argue that the visitor’s actions are at least partially responsible for the accident. For instance, if a customer in a supermarket willfully ignores a hazard sign or tape that is in place for safety purposes, the property owner might be able to successfully argue that they took appropriate steps to protect visitors and that the customer is at fault for the accident.
In some situations, the court will place a certain portion of the blame on each party. The property owner might be found to be 75% at fault and the visitor 25% at fault. In cases like that, the court will reduce the total damages owed to the visitor by 25%.
If you have suffered an accident such as a slip-and-fall on someone else’s property, keep in mind that you have options. You might be able to file a claim for your injuries and other damages and receive the compensation you deserve.