We’ve all slipped and fallen at some point in time, but if you had an accident that could have been prevented, it’s possible that someone can be held liable for it. However, before you start calling lawyers, it’s important to understand what liability means when it comes to accidents that happen on someone’s property.
What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability is the idea that you should do everything in your power to make sure there are no hazards or dangers on your property created through negligence.
For example, let’s say there was a loose floorboard on your stairs. It’s been loose for years, but you haven’t done anything to fix it. If someone comes over to your house, and they get hurt as a result of that faulty stair, and you did nothing to warn them or prevent them from stepping on it, then you might be considered liable for their injury.
The keyword here is might, because the important question that has to be answered is whether you took precautions to prevent the injury, even if the hazard was still there.
Let’s use another example. Say someone in a supermarket aisle drops a jar of pickles, and it shatters on the ground. There’s a mess, but worse, it’s a slippery mess full of broken glass. Now, if that incident is reported, and the staff knows about it, they have a responsibility to keep other customers safe from it. If the mess is left alone, and someone gets hurt because they slipped and fell in it, then the store is liable because that hazard should have been taken care of. If the store puts down barriers at either end of the aisle, though, telling customers not to enter, then the store won’t be responsible for someone who ignores that warning and gets injured. They took a reasonable precaution, and though the hazard still existed (since these things take time to clean), the only way someone could have an accident would be by going around the safety measures put in place.
Some People Are More Entitled to Liability Than Others
It’s also important to understand that, while a property owner may be liable in the case of injury, some people are granted more legal protection than others. Customers, for example, are granted the most protection because stores should be safe places to shop, and they’re being invited in. Guests and visitors to a place for no commercial purpose (like people coming over for a house party) have the next highest level of protection. The lowest level of protection is reserved for trespassers because even though they shouldn’t be on a property, there are still rules regarding their safety.