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Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability

Q: Does premises liability cover only slip-and-falls?

A: No. Premises liability is an area of law concerning the duties that a property owner or occupier has toward entrants of the property. Premises liability covers all property defects or dangers, including vicious animals and inadequate security, as well as conditions that may result in a slip-and-fall.

Q: What damages are available in premises liability lawsuits?

A: People injured due to the negligence of a property possessor may recover compensation for a variety of damages such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Pain and suffering
  • Mental distress
  • Physical impairment
  • Lost wages

Q: What are the duties of a property owner?

A: A property owner or occupier has a duty to use and maintain property in a way that does not create an unreasonable risk of harm to others. A property possessor's duty to warn of dangers on a property is based on the status of an entrant on the land.

Q: What are the different classifications of property entrants?

A: There are three classifications: trespassers, licensees and invitees.

Q: What is the difference between an invitee and a licensee?

A: Generally, property possessors have a higher level of duty to invitees. An invitee enters property with the permission of the possessor for the benefit of the possessor. Store customers and visitors to public buildings are considered invitees. A licensee enters property with the permission of the possessor for the licensee's own purpose. Party guests are considered licensees.

Q: What duty of care is owed to a licensee?

A: A licensee is owed a duty of reasonable care with regard to known hazards. This means that a party host must warn visitors of a broken step that he or she is aware of.

Q: What duty of care is owed to an invitee?

A: An invitee is owed a duty of reasonable care for known hazards or those that should be known. This means that a grocery store has a duty to proactively check for spills to ensure that customers are free from slipping hazards.

Q: What are the elements of a premises liability lawsuit brought by an invitee?

An injured invitee has to show that a dangerous condition created an "unreasonable risk" of harm to the invitee.

There are four elements to these claims:

  1. A dangerous condition existed on the property.
  2. The property possessor knew or should have known about the condition through the use of ordinary care.
  3. The property possessor failed to warn of, remove or otherwise remedy the danger.
  4. As a result, the invitee was injured.

Q: What are the elements of a premises liability lawsuit brought by a licensee?

There are six elements to premises liability lawsuits brought by licensees:

  1. A dangerous condition existed on the property.
  2. The possessor of the property had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition.
  3. The licensee lacked knowledge of the condition and could not have discovered the dangerous condition through the exercise of ordinary care.
  4. The possessor knew or should have known through the exercise of ordinary care that the licensee was unaware of the condition and could not discover it.
  5. The defendant failed to remedy, remove or warn of the condition.
  6. The licensee was injured as a result.

More On Premises Liability:

Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability
Trespassers and Premises Liability FAQ
Keeping the Premises Safe
Toxic Substances on the Property
Criminal Acts by Third Parties
Liability of Tenants & Landlords
Liabilities of Contractors and Construction Companies

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