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How do you determine responsibility in a premises liability case?

It happens on a weekly basis. You enter someone else's property. Whether it is a private residence, public store or a government building, visitors of a property tend to be under the impression that the property is safe, and there are no risks of harm while they remain on the property. Unfortunately, some risks are not apparent to patrons. If a property owner fails to correct or warn against any known or potential dangers, this could result in serious harm to a visitor.

When an individual is harmed by a dangerous condition on a property, he or she could hold a property owner liable by filing a premises liability action. However, when taking such a step, it is important to understand the details of the incident and what was the underlying cause. This is the best way to establish cause and liability.

Whether it is a slip-and-fall incident inside a store, a fall in a parking lot, having something fall on you inside a store, suffering an injury on an amusement park ride or being attacked by a dog, liability could be placed on the owner of the property through the legal theory of premises liability.

But first, it needs to be established the status of the visitor at the time of the incident. In other words, were they an invitee, licensee or a trespasser? An invitee is a person invited onto the property. This time of invitation on the property usually implies that the property owner has taken reasonable steps to ensure the premises are safe. A licensee is a person who enters the property for a purpose, such as being a social guest. This makes them a welcomed visitor. Finally, a trespasser is a person who enters property without the right to do so. And with licensees and trespassers, there is no implied promise that reasonable care has been made to make the property safe.

The condition of the property is also a factor when determining responsibility in a premises liability action. Common factors include the circumstances a visitor entered the property, the use of the property, the foreseeability of the accident or injury occurring and the reasonableness of the property owner's effort to repair a dangerous condition on the property or to warn visitors of it.

Suffering harms because of a dangerous condition on another person's property is a shocking incident. It is also an incident that can result in much pain and suffering. Thus, it is important to note your rights and how best to protect them.

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