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What Businesses Should Know About Premises Liability Cases

Negligence is never good—and for businesses, it can cause major problems and injuries. Besides the human pain and suffering, an injury on your property can also result in high costs for your company. Here’s an overview of what businesses and business owners should know about premises liability.

What is it?

Premises liability is a legal concept that typically comes into play in personal injury cases. In these cases, the injury has to have been caused by some type of unsafe or defective condition on a business or organization’s property. Most personal injury cases are based on negligence, and premises liability cases are no exception to that. In order to win a case, the injured individual must prove negligence. Failure to keep a property safe for visitors results in premises liability.

In the past—1968, to be exact—the California Supreme Court took the idea of premises liability and turned it into a national debate. The previous system put more weight on the entrant’s status and less on the landowner, but because of this new standard, premises liability shifted to the landowner’s responsibility. Therefore, even though the entrant or visitor and their status—invitee, licensee, or trespasser—still matter, there’s more focus on the landowner’s responsibility to take care of their property. Therefore, avoiding premises liability requires a landowner to avoid being negligent.

The Three Entrant Categories

The entrant plays an important role in premises liability, so it’s important to know what these three categories are.

  1. Invitee – This is someone who has the landowner’s express or implied permission to enter the property. Invitees in business settings are customers at a restaurant, guests at hotels, clients at an office, and shoppers at a grocery store, for example. Businesses owe invitees a duty of responsible care, which essentially means that that the business will take care of their property and maintain safe conditions because they’re inviting people to enter. 
  2. Licensee – A licensee is somewhat similar to an invitee, but has express or implied permission to enter the property for his or her own purposes. The landowner has no expectation of financial gain from a licensee. This covers people like salesmen, plumbers, and delivery persons. The landowner has a duty only to warn the licensee about dangerous conditions.
  3. Trespasser – A trespasser is someone who is not allowed to be on the property. Traditionally, landowners owe no duty to trespassers, unless the trespasser is a child. For example, swimming pool owners have a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk of harm to children who may end up near their pool, regardless of whether or not those children are trespassing.

Types of Premises Liability Cases

The typical premises liability case is that of the “slip and fall.” The most standard of liability cases, this occurs when someone trips/slips and falls on someone else’s property. This can be due to a variety of causes, such as defective staircases, accumulations of ice or snow, wet floors, hidden cords, unsecured rugs, and more. Other types of premises liability cases include:

  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Animal and dog bites
  • Inadequate or negligent security leading to injury or assault
  • Water leaks or flooding
  • Toxic fumes or chemicals
  • Elevator and escalator incidents
  • Inadequate maintenance
  • Defective conditions on the premises

There are many different scenarios that fall under the premises liability umbrella because if any harm comes to someone on your property, you could—depending on the situation—be held liable. This may seem worrisome, but there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent these cases from knocking atInspect your door.

How to Prevent Premises Liability Cases

There are three steps that you should take to prevent most workplace injuries and expensive liability claims.

  1. Inspect – Businesses and other landowners need to make sure that they consistently inspect their workspace and the rest of their property. Areas need to be kept clean and safe at all times. Vigilance is key—the one time that somebody doesn’t clean up or take care of a loose floorboard might just be the time that a visitor gets hurt. It’s a good idea to check your property after storms to see if anything has been knocked loose. If someone notes a potential hazard, act swiftly—this could both spare someone a great deal of pain and save your business thousands or even millions of dollars.
  2. Correct – Failing to correct issues can lead to significant lawsuits, and there are plenty of qualified Portland accident lawyers who make sure that injured parties are compensated. Although inspection is the first step, it means nothing without correction. Correcting hazards and issues as soon as they are noted is the best way to prevent accidents and injuries from happening.
  3. Warn – If you or somebody else notice a hazard that can’t be corrected right away, then a warning sign needs to be displayed. When it comes to slip and fall cases, they tend to happen most often because no sign is displayed showing that there is a wet floor or an icy sidewalk. These cautionary signs show that you’re paying attention and taking the necessary steps to protect the safety of people visiting your property. Even after a warning sign has been displayed, property owners should still work diligently to fix the hazard as soon as possible. A warning is important, but it doesn’t mean that you can leave the problem unfixed.

If you run a business or other property-owning organization, you can—and should—follow all of these steps to lessen your risk of premises liability cases. If you’re someone who’s been injured because a business or organization failed to properly maintain a safe environment, you have options. You’ll want to have a good Portland accident lawyer on your side who will help you build your case. Travis Mayor has won millions of dollars in compensation for clients who’ve been injured, and he’ll bring all his expertise to bear as he fights for you in court. If you’d like to discuss your case, contact us via the form at the bottom of the page or by phone at (503) 506-7891 to set up a free consultation.