When people walk into buildings or onto property belonging to others, they do so under the reasonable expectation that the property owner will take reasonable steps to maintain and make repairs to any damages that might cause injuries to others. “Reasonable” is the key term and has a large impact on people’s liability for properties they own. For example, it is reasonable to expect someone to routinely clean the pine cones out of their parking lots. But it might not be reasonable for to expect them to clean pine cones the very moment they first hit the ground. That gray area is governed by reason, and reasonable people would pick up the pine cone eventually and in an acceptable time frame before someone might step on it by accident and sprain or break an ankle or both.
Property Owners Must Be Accountable
Whether a property owner is an individual, group, entity or the public, there is someone responsible for its care and upkeep. Any negligence, which is defined by not doing what reasonable people would in a particular circumstance, can lead to accidents, injuries, property damage and financial responsibility for the property owner. People need to know when they are allowed to enter a property or building that reasonable care has been taken to keep people safe and free of danger. That doesn’t mean the property owner is liable if a bolt of lightning strikes a visitor while standing on the property. But that property owner absolutely is liable if a visitor is electrocuted by faulty wiring that the property owner should have known about and taken steps to remedy. Taking reasonable care to protect others is the difference between negligence and responsible ownership.
Premises Liability Comes in Many Forms
Property owners also are liable for the actions of those on their property to some degree. Nightclub owners who invite people into their establishment and service alcohol to adults are responsible for ensuring a reasonably safe environment for patrons, for example. If a patron is assaulted by another, the property owner might be liable for injuries or other damages.
Have you ever been injured due to a property owner’s negligence?