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What is Premises Liability?

Premises liability is when an injury is caused by some kind of unsafe condition on someone else’s property. This falls under the umbrella of personal injury law.
Most personal injury cases, like premises liability, arise from negligence. To come out victorious on a premises liability case, the injured person has to show that the property owner had been negligent in some way as it regards to ownership or maintenance of the property. Negligence basically means that the property owner did not use reasonable care in maintaining the property.
Keep in mind, just because you have been injured on someone’s property, this doesn’t automatically mean the property owner was negligent. And just because the property may have posed an unsafe condition does not necessarily mean the property owner was negligent. You would have to show that the owner knew about the issue or should have reasonably known about any conditions leading to unsafe premises. 

Types of Premises Liability Cases

There are many different kinds of premises liability cases, including:

  • Slips and falls
  • Snow and ice accidents
  • Improper maintenance of the premises
  • Defective conditions found on the premises
  • Insufficient building security resulting in injury or assault
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Swimming pool accidents
  • Fires
  • Flooding
  • Leaks
  • Amusement park accidents
  • Toxic fumes

Property Owner’s Duty of Care

Many states require property owners to exercise reasonable care with respect to all people who may enter the property, other states can put a limit on the landowner’s duties, which may vary with the visitor’s status.
In these cases, visitors to the property fall under three categories:

  • Invitee: Someone who has the owner’s permission to come onto the property. Invitees include friends, relatives, and neighbors.
  • Licensee: Someone who has the landowner’s permission to come onto the property, but is there for their own purposes. Licensees include salespeople.
  • Trespasser: Someone who has no authority to be on the property.

Examples of Premises Liability Cases

Slip and Fall: These are the most common premises liability cases, and often involve:

  • Defective staircases
  • Ice or snow
  • Wet floors
  • Concealed extension cords
  • Unsecured rugs or carpets
  • Thresholds
  • Loose or broken floors, steps, sidewalks, or stairs

Inadequate Building Security: These cases usually come up in offices or apartment buildings. Building owners must act reasonably when it comes to making sure access to the building is secure. If a burglar breaks in and assaults someone inside the building, for example, that person could realistically have a premises liability case on the owner if they can show the owner failed to secure the building in a reasonable manner.
Swimming Pool Accidents: These usually involve small kids along with an unsupervised and non-secured pool. This is why most cities have laws requiring that fences are installed around pools with a latching gate. If a homeowner allows their pool to be open and unsupervised, they could be held liable in a premises liability case.

Contact Sayer, Regan & Thayer LLP

If you would like to learn more about premises liability, contact us toll free at 866-378-5836 or 401-324-9915 for a free consultation.


These materials have been prepared by SRT for informational purposes only and are not intended and should not be construed as legal advice.

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