Accidents happen. Sometimes a person slips and falls and it’s no one else’s fault. But in other cases, a person is badly injured because a property owner carelessly failed to address a safety hazard. In these cases, the injured person may be able to recover compensation for their damages.
The law underpinning this concept is known as premises liability, and it can be very important in ensuring that the injured get the compensation they need to deal with the aftermath of a preventable accident.
The basic idea behind premises liability is that a property owner has a duty to take reasonable care to clear the area of safety hazards so that visitors are not injured in a foreseeable accident. If they breach this duty, and a legal visitor is injured as a result, the injured may hold them liable for their damages.
Dangerous conditions in retail stores
To illustrate how it works, imagine that a customer at a hardware store was simply pulling a box off a shelf when the shelf suddenly collapsed and fell on him, badly injuring his legs. His medical bills resulting from the accident cost thousands of dollars, and he missed out on weeks of work while he was unable to walk. On top of that, he experienced pain and suffering, and was unable to help his family in the way he was accustomed to doing.
While he is recovering, the customer has time to wonder why the shelf collapsed. After investigating, he finds out that the store owner knew the shelf was unstable and did nothing to fix it.
In this case, the injured customer claims that the store owner had a duty to take reasonable care to keep the store safe for customers like him. By failing to correct the problem with the shelf, the owner breached their duty. This breach led to the customer’s injuries, and therefore the owner should be held liable for the customer’s damages. These damages include medical costs, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
The devil is in the details
The above example gives a relatively simple scenario. In real life, premises liability can be highly complicated. The outcome of these cases is highly dependent on the precise set of facts involved.
Attorneys with experience in premises liability help the injured and their families understand how the law might apply to the unique circumstances of their accident.