How Much Responsible is a Property Owner for Accidents Occurring in His/Her Property?
Slip and fall is a very common accident that can cause injuries, such as a minor bruise or a serious fracture to the wrist or elbow, or a spinal column injury. This accident can occur anywhere, in a public or a private place, where one least expects it to happen.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), more than eight million slip and fall accidents occur in the U.S. every year. The most common causes of these accidents are wet, oily, icy or slippery floors or surfaces; loose, uneven and broken floors, steps, sidewalks or stairs; a faulty staircase; unsecured rugs or carpets; and hidden or tangled extension wires.
Slip and fall victims are most commonly the ones blamed for the accident and their injuries. However, rather than being less careless, thus, the accident, the Hankey Law Office rather believes that blame may be imputed on the property owner, who, most probably, negligently failed to keep his/her property free of safety hazards – the cause of injury to visitors.
Slip and fall accidents are filed as premises liability cases. Premises liability refers to a landowner’s accountability for injuries suffered by persons due to a defective or unsafe condition in his/her property. The scope of a premises liability lawsuit is not limited to injuries resulting from slips, trips or falls; rather, it includes injuries resulting from falling objects, electrocution, open excavations, broken chairs, and so forth, so long as these occur in someone else’s premises.
In determining the extent of a property owner’s responsibility and liability to injuries, a classification of those who enter his/her premise has been made. This classification refers to the three classes or categories of visitors, namely: an invitee, a licensee and a trespasser.
- Invitee – refers to a person who has the landowner’s permission to enter his/her property. His/her being on the property can be due to the conduction of some kind of business, or because the property, being a public property, is made available to the public.
- A licensee is a person who has the landowner’s expressed or implied permission to enter the property. His/her being there, however, is for his/her own purpose or amusement, rather than for business purposes.
- A trespasser is a person who has no authority, whatsoever, to be on someone else’s property. Thus, being on the property illegally, the owner owes him/her no responsibility if ever he/she gets injured (unless he/she is a child).
In some states, like in Chicago, for instance, property owners have a legal obligation to reasonably maintain the safety of their premises. A property owner who fails to do so and if the slip and fall accident victim will be able to prove that the property owner knew, or should have known, about the dangerous condition that caused his/her accident, then it would be wise to pursue compensation through a lawsuit.