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Who’s responsible for an injury on someone else’s property?

When you enter someone else’s property, you make a reasonable assumption that the owners have taken steps to keep you safe from potential hazards. Sadly, that’s not always the case and millions of Americans suffer injuries as a result, including broken bones, brain trauma and permanent disabilities. Often, owners and insurance companies try to skirt their responsibilities and leave victims unable to work and with a host of ongoing medical bills.

So, how do you determine liability in personal injury cases? First, you must determine the visitor’s legal status. Invited guests, such as a shopper, a licensee or a social guest are there at the invitation of the property owner and thus have a reasonable expectation of safety. Trespassers, on the other hand, are not invited and thus are not afforded the promise, though the property owner could be expected to provide adequate warning, even to unwelcome guests.

Once the status of the visitor is established, several factors go into determining if the owner is liable:

  • Could the owner have foreseen the hazardous condition that led to the accident ? wet, uneven or waxed floors, rugs with curled corners, missing handrails, improperly maintained escalators?
  • Did the owner take reasonable steps to repair the potentially dangerous area or, at the least, provide proper warning for visitors?

In some cases, both the property owner and the visitor can be found at fault. For instance, if a court decides that the injured party is 10 percent liable, he or she would have any awarded damages reduced by that percentage. Contacting a lawyer to discuss your case may be the best course of action if you feel you’ve been injured because of the negligence of a property owner.

Source: findlaw.com, “Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?,” retrieved May 13, 2015

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