Although we are all required to do our best not to hurt other people in our day-to-day lives, certain individuals owe an even higher duty of care to others. Property owners, for example, who invite others onto their premises are legally required to take reasonable steps to ensure that their property is free of dangerous hazards. Those who fail to take these precautionary measures can be held liable if their negligence resulted in another person’s injury, so if you were recently injured after slipping, or tripping, and falling on someone else’s property, it is important to contact a lawyer who is well-versed in premises liability and can help you seek compensation for your medical bills and other losses.
Property Owner Duties
Property owners who invite others onto their property must take certain precautionary measures to help keep their premises safe, including:
- Regularly inspecting their property for hazards;
- Making any necessary repairs or conducting maintenance as required; and
- Warning visitors of hidden dangers.
Property owners whose failure to take these steps results in a visitor encountering and ultimately being injured by a dangerous condition, can be held liable for damages. Dangerous conditions could constitute anything from a puddle on a floor to uneven stairs, but some of the most common include:
- Inadequate lighting;
- Warped or uneven flooring;
- Torn or bulging carpet;
- Broken or missing railings;
- Cracked, icy, or wet sidewalks; and
- Cluttered aisles or floors.
Even when a visitor is injured by this type of dangerous condition, he or she will only be entitled to compensation if the owner knew or should have known about the hazardous condition in question.
Should a Property Owner Have Known About the Dangerous Condition?
When determining whether a property owner should have known about a certain condition, courts assess a number of factors, including the permanence of the hazard. If a hazard is permanent, such as a hole in the floor or warped flooring, for instance, a court will generally presume that the owner knew or at least should have known about and remedied it. If the hazard was of a more temporary nature, however, such as a patch of ice on the sidewalk or a spill, a court will be more likely to waive liability, but will still look to evidence of the length of time that the condition existed before making a decision. If, for example, a spill in a grocery store aisle was only there for a few seconds before a person slipped and fell, the store’s owner would most likely not be held liable for damages, unless there is also evidence that:
- A store employee saw the spill occur; or
- The spill took place in an area where similar accidents had occurred on prior occasions.
Proving that a dangerous hazard was present long enough for a property owner to discover and address it requires strong evidence. For help investigating your own case, please contact our legal team today.
Call Our Office for Legal Assistance
If you were hurt while visiting someone else’s property, please call Palmer | Lopez at 813-506-5651 to learn more about recovering compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. You can also reach one of our dedicated Brandon slip & fall lawyers by completing one of our brief online contact forms.