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Who is liable for injury on my property?

Under current law, the owner or occupier of a property has the duty to exercise reasonable care and ensure persons who are invited onto the property are protected from unreasonable harm. If someone has been injured on your property they may legally have the right to file a premise liability suit against you.

Winning their case, however, will require proving you owed them a duty of care, your breached your duty by allowing dangerous conditions or defects to exist on your property, and they were injured from your breach of duty.

Common types of premise liability cases

Premise liability cases can be filed against a home or business owner. Compensation for injuries can include payment for medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. The most common types of premise liability cases include

  • Roadway or sidewalk defects
  • Iced entrances
  • Unlit areas
  • Poor security
  • Slips and falls
  • Dog bites

Defenses against liability

One of the primary defenses against liability as a home or business owner is to prove your conduct to keep your property safe was reasonable. For example, if someone slipped and fell outside of your house the court may ask whether you made a reasonable effort to keep your porch safe. But the circumstances of the weather could impact their decision.

For instance, if it has snowed for five straight days and there is no way you could have ensured the area was clear of snow this factor will weigh on the court's decision. If, however, it snowed a week ago, has not snowed since, the snow remained on your porch, and you did little to ensure the safety of visitors, you might be held liable.

Businesses are often held to a higher standard of liability than a homeowner, but in many cases businesses may be able to avoid cases of premise liability if they can prove they have consistent cleaning schedules and regularly maintain their store.

You are partially responsible for your own injuries

Another consideration is whether or not the injured party was partially or fully responsible for their own injuries. For example, if you invited a group of friends over for a party and one guest drunkenly exits the party and trips over a crack in the sidewalk and falls down your steps the court is likely to consider their actions and rule that they are at least partially responsible for their own injuries.

In some states partial responsibility is enough to eliminate the right to recover any compensation from injury. Other states will determine each party's responsibility and allocate damages accordingly. The remaining states will determine whether the injured party's responsibility reaches a particular threshold. So depending on the state, you may or may not be liable for the injured party's loss even if the injury occurred on your property.

Finally, the court will consider how long ago the injury occurred. If the injured party waits too long and the statute of limitations has expired, it will not matter whether or not they were injured on your property, they will have forfeited their right to compensation.

Previous Premise-Liability Question

I fell down, how long do I have to file an injury claim?