Personal Injury 101: Premises Liability

Previously on Personal Injury 101, we discussed worker's compensation.  Next on the docket, premises liability.

Premises liability laws make property owners responsible for injuries that occur on their property because of things like

  • Unsafe conditions
  • poor upkeep of a property

Some common examples include:

  • a slip and fall accident
  • dog bites or animal attacks
  • construction accidents/occupational injuries
  • wrongful death accidents
  • accidental drowning
  • assault & battery

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, premises liability cases amount to nearly $4 billion dollars in compensation to victims each and every year. That's a lot of injuries. A lawsuit can be filed if a plaintiff was hurt while on someone's property. The victim is usually classified as either a licensee, an invitee, or a trespasser.

A licensee is someone who enters a property for something like a community event, parade or social event. The property owner is liable if he or she caused, knew of, or through the use of reasonable care should have known of a dangerous condition and failed to remedy the issue or warn people of the risk.  

An invitee is anyone invited to enter into or on the property of for the commercial benefit of the property owner. This includes restaurants, malls, or grocery stores. The owners have a responsibility to protect patrons from harm while on their premises.  

A trespasser is someone who enters a property without consent, even if the trespasser's intent was not to commit an illegal act. Under these circumstances, property owners are much less likely to be held liable for accidents involving trespassers. (In fact, the statute in Nevada recently changed in this regard. Read about it at Lawyers Plus' blog.)

It can be difficult to determine which classification is appropriate for the victim/plaintiff.  For that reason, you guessed it, be sure to speak with a qualified attorney.

 

Zachariah B. Parry is an attorney and founding partner at the law firm Parry & Pfau and is an adjunct professor who teaches torts, contracts, and Nevada practice and procedure for UNLV’s paralegal program. He can be reached at 702-912-4451 or zach@p2lawyers.com.