Premise liability holds owners and residents accountable for recompense. Here’s what to do when someone is injured on private property.

If someone is injured on your property, they may be able to claim premise liability. Premise liability is a form of ordinary negligence claim sustained due to a failure to maintain proper conditions of the property, rather than irresponsible actions occurring on someone else’s land.

What is Premise Liability?

Premise liability holds a property owner responsible for injuries on their property. Property owners in all states are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for any visitors. Failure to do so can result in fatal accidents, including:

  • Animal bites
  • Slip and fall
  • Dangerous property
  • Negligent security
  • Swimming pool injuries
  • Inadequate property management
  • Children injuries
  • Sidewalk and stair injuries
  • Retail store liability
  • Restaurant liability

Under California Civil Code 1714, individuals are responsible for their actions and any injury under their care and management of the property.

Related: Slips and Fall Out of Court Settlement Amounts

Duty of the Owner During Premise Liability

In most states, property owners have a responsibility to reasonably uphold a metric of care for anyone who might enter their property. However, some states retain an older version of reasonable care, limiting the duty of the landowner based on the status of the visitor.

States like Michigan, Minnesota, Illinois, New Jersey, Nebraska, and California divide visitors into three categories:

Invitees: obtained landowner’s permission to enter the property, and owed a duty of reasonable care

Licensee: an owner’s permission to enter the property for personal purposes, and owed a lesser duty of care

Trespasser: not authorized on property and landowners owe no duty unless it is a child

The status of the plaintiff sustaining the accident determines the extent to which the plaintiff must prove the defendant responsible.

How to File Premise Liability

Under California law, premise liability cases have a two-year statute of limitations. Responsible parties are often between the plaintiff and the property owner, but property managers, landlords, homeowner associations, and other larger entities can be liable as well.

Premise liability cases may work in favor of the defense, as the plaintiff’s allegations are more difficult to prove and easier to defend.

To file a premise liability, a claim should include the following facts:

  • The defendant owns the property (legal duty of care)
  • The defendant neglected to maintain the property (breach of duty)
  • The plaintiff was harmed
  • The negligence of the defendant substantially factored in the plaintiff’s injuries (proximate cause resulting in the injury)

Related: Bodily Injury vs Personal Injury: The Difference

1. Duty of Care

A property owner is legally bound to keep their premises safe from anyone who is legally invited. The degree of duty of care can differ if a person was trespassing.

2. Breach of Duty

A property owner should reasonably maintain the safety of their property by fixing hazardous conditions and warning visitors of potential issues. For owners to be held liable, the plaintiff must prove the owner had prior or constructive knowledge of the potential dangers. Constructive knowledge includes information that a property owner should reasonably know.

3. Breach of Duty Causes Direct Harm

The injured plaintiff must have exercised care in avoiding obvious dangerous conditions. The plaintiff must prove the injuries resulted from property negligence and the hazards could not have been avoided without receiving a is settled prior warning.

The plaintiff may incur some fault in the accident but may seek some degree of compensation depending on the specific negligence laws in a specific state.

4. Damages from Injuries

The plaintiff must demonstrate damages with:

  • Medical bills
  • Prescription medications
  • Physical therapy
  • Lost wages
  • Property damage
  • Pain and suffering

The burden is squarely on the plaintiff to bring evidence against the property owner.

Limitations on Premise Liability

Most states follow comparative fault in premise liability, meaning if the injured person is partially responsible for the accident, damages can only be recovered to the extent the plaintiff reasonably reduced their liability.

States focusing on the status of the visitor must give reasonable warnings to trespassers, with the exception of a child trespasser. By law, property owners of an “attractive nuisance,” an object that may garner the attention of a child, are owed a higher duty of care.

FAQs About Premise Liability

Who is liable for injuries on commercial property?

If an individual is injured on your property, the tenant is responsible unless the property has pre-existing faulty conditions. Otherwise, the liability falls on the landlord.

What is the difference between premise liability and negligence?

Premise liability focuses on the failure of a property owner to uphold reasonable care. By law, the landholder is liable to ensure that adequate safety and protection measures are in place. Negligence refers to irresponsible actions occurring on someone else’s property.

How can the plaintiff prove the defendant’s negligence?

Due to difficulty in proving premise liability cases, keep medical bills and prescriptions relevant to the injury. Testimony from experts, doctors, and the plaintiff is valuable in showing the impact of the sustained injury. The injury must have been reasonably foreseeable and a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s accident.

Contact Us

If you or a loved one would like to know more about what to do when someone is injured on your property, get your free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys today!