Premises Liability: Understanding the Basics

When Americans go to work or enter a place of business, they do so with the assumption that the building they are entering is reasonably safe. They are afforded this privilege by what is known as premises liability law.

What Is Premises Liability?

Premises liability law states that property owners have a duty to ensure that their property is safe and free of obvious hazards for people who enter their property. If a property owner invites a visitor to his or her property and that visitor is injured by a hazardous condition, the property owner could be held liable for the visitor’s injury.

For example, property owners have a duty to ensure that the flooring of the property is not slippery and is free of debris that a person could easily trip over. They also must make sure that their property has good lighting conditions and is properly maintained (eg. no broken staircases, loose floor boards or tile, etc.)

However, in order for the property owner to be held liable, it must first be shown that he or she was negligent. In order to prove negligence, you must show that the property owner knew (or should have known) of the hazardous condition that caused the injury and that he or she failed to take steps to remedy the problem.

Common Examples of Premises Liability Cases

Here are a few of the most common types of premises liability cases:

Slip and fall cases are the most prominent type of premises liability cases. This is when a visitor is injured after slipping (or tripping) on another person’s property. This could be from slipping on an unmarked wet floor, tripping over a poorly placed extension cord, falling down an uneven staircase, or any other number of ways a person might slip or trip.

Inadequate security is another type of premises liability. Property owners have a duty to make a reasonable effort to ensure that their property is secure. This is why many apartment complexes and large office buildings hire a doorman or require a building access code to be entered in order to unlock the gate or door. If a person is assaulted by an intruder inside the building, the property owner could be held liable if it can be shown that reasonable precautions were not taken to prevent outsiders from accessing the building uninvited.

Inadequate supervision can also leave a property owner liable for any accidents that occur on his or her property. A prime example of a property owner being negligent due to inadequate supervision might be a homeowner who leaves young children unattended to play near a backyard swimming pool. If an unsupervised child falls into the swimming pool and drowns, the homeowner could be held responsible for the child’s death.

What If I Was Injured On Someone Else’s Property?

If you were injured while on another person’s property, you may have a premises liability claim. In order to have a premises liability claim, it must be shown that you were (a) lawfully on the property and (b) the property owner was negligent in maintaining the property. Premises liability law can be complex in some cases, so it is best that you consult with an experienced attorney about the facts of your case to determine if you have a claim. Contact Arnold & Itkin’s premises liability attorneys today for a free case evaluation.


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