When you enter a store, government property, or someone’s home, you expect the conditions of the area to be safe and free of hazards that can lead to serious bodily harm or wrongful death. These injuries come with skyrocketing medical expenses and may leave you with a temporary or permanent disability, reducing your ability to earn a living. Premises liability laws were enacted for this very reason. The owner of the property, someone who rents an apartment or condo, and even municipalities can be held liable for your injuries.
The most common hazards involved in premises liability claims are slip and falls, dangerous electrical or mechanical conditions, and unmarked (or poorly marked) areas where the owner or leasee knows—or should know—severe injury may occur without proper care and avoidance.
Determining Fault in Premises Liability Claims
Liability for injuries on someone's property can involve the legal status for which the visitor to the property gained entrance, the state of the grounds, whether a child was hurt, and the actions of both parties.
1. What Reason Brought the Injured Victim to the Property?
There’s an implied invitation for potential customers or “visitors” to enter the premises of grocery stores, gas stations, and other commercial businesses as well as government property including public parks and beaches. The property owner also assumes responsibility if the injured party was a social guest on private party or was licensed to be there such as to install a product, deliver mail, or perform a task. Laws regarding trespassers who are injured on the premises vary by state, but generally, there is no implied promise that reasonable care has been done to ensure safety.
Trespassers may still be able to recover compensation if the owners were aware that trespassers might pass through or enter the property such as providing warnings of hazards the owner was aware of or should have been aware of that could cause harm to children and adults. One example would be injuries on someone's property during Halloween where children are trick or treating and trespassing on multiple homes.
2. Is the Landlord of Tenants Responsible?
Claims involving injuries that happened on a leased property can be complicated as there are circumstances under which the landlord and/or the tenant can be held liable for harm or death caused by property conditions. Typically, the landlord is not responsible for injury caused to a tenant, visitor, or trespasser once the property is leased. This is because he or she no longer has control over property conditions. Exceptions to this rule include injuries caused by known issues that the landlord is responsible for fixing such as plumbing or electrical problems.
3. How the Conditions and Actions of Both Parties Impact Liability & Compensation
Property owners are expected to provide reasonable care to make sure visitors (not including trespassers) are safe while on the premises. That includes these caveats:
- Whether the injury or accident was foreseeable
- The circumstances under which the injured victim visited the property
- A reasonable effort was made to repair or warn visitors of dangerous conditions
- How the property was being used
The actions and conditions that led to the injuries can impact the amount of compensation you receive for your injuries in a premises liability claim. This “comparative fault” takes a percentage of the settlement. For example, someone who is found to be 25% at fault will lose 25% of the awarded damages.
Contact Our Premises Liability Lawyer in Fishkill
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone's property or public areas, please contact our premises liability lawyer in Fishkill today at (845) 896-5295 for a FREE case evaluation. The Maurer Law Firm serves clients in Myers Corner, Beacon, Lagrangeville, and surrounding areas of Hudson Valley, New York.