What is premises liability?

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If you've been injured in a slip and fall accident, you may encounter a number of unfamiliar terms as you seek compensation for your injuries. One of these terms is premises liability, which refers to determining if a property owner is legally responsible for an accident.

Premises liability laws require property owners to take reasonable precautions to prevent injury to others. This includes fixing issues that are known safety hazards or providing warning signs indicating potentially unsafe conditions. Premises liability and slip and falls Neblett Beard and Arsenault

Standard of Reasonableness

Premises liability rests heavily on the standard of reasonableness. Some actions that are typically determined to be reasonable precautions a property owner must take include:

  • Using a wet floor sign to warn people of spills
  • Fixing ripped carpet or tile
  • Having handrails on stairs
  • Providing appropriate lighting
  • Clearing debris from a walkway

Building codes can provide a starting point for determining what constitutes reasonable actions for a property owner, but the absence of a building code violation doesn't necessarily mean all appropriate precautions have been taken.

Status of the Injured Party

Premises liability classifies injured people in four different ways:

Invitee 

Someone who has a general invitation to be on the property such as a customer in a supermarket or retail store.

Licensee 

Someone entering the property for his own purposes but at the implied consent of the owner—such as a repair person or someone delivering a package.

Social guest

A welcome visitor to the property such as a friend who frequently stops by for visits.

Trespasser 

Someone with no authority or legal right to be on the property.

Under Louisiana law, trespassers are not entitled to compensation for injuries they have suffered. However, the attractive nuisance doctrine carves out an exception for children who are trespassing but unable to understand the risk involved. The attractive nuisance doctrine most often applies to injuries caused by uncovered swimming pools and open pits.

Comparative Fault

Premises liability is subject to comparative fault, which means a defendant's ability to recover damages is proportionally reduced if he contributed to the accident by carelessness, recklessness, or inattention. It is assumed that adults have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to ensure their own safety. However, in cases involving injured children, a child is only expected to take age appropriate safety precautions.

Special Issues Involving Landlords

Premises liability law becomes significantly more complex when injuries occur on property that is owned by one party and leased by another. Landlords can be held liable for injuries only if they were caused by safety hazards the landlord knew about and failed to fix within a reasonable timeframe. If the tenant failed to report the hazard or took actions that created the hazard, the landlord is likely not liable.

How Premises Liability Affects the Right to Compensation

Premises liability law allows injured persons to receive compensation via a personal injury claim if they can prove the following:

  1. There was an unreasonably dangerous condition on the property.
  2. The property owner had knowledge of the dangerous condition.
  3. Their injuries occurred because of the property's dangerous condition.

Louisiana has a one-year statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim from a slip and fall accident. A personal injury claim can include compensation for:

  • Immediate medical needs such as emergency room care, surgery, and hospital stays 
  • Anticipated future medical needs, if the injuries suffered in the accident led to a permanent disability
  • Lost wages while recovering from injuries
  • Loss of future earning potential, if the injuries suffered in the accident led to a permanent disability affecting the ability to return to work
  • Pain and suffering, including physical pain and emotional stress or trauma

Have You Been Injured In A Louisiana Slip And Fall?

If you've been hurt in a slip and fall you need to speak with an experienced slip and fall attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.

 

Wesley J. Gralapp
With over 25 years of experience, Attorney Wesley Gralapp helps personal injury victims throughout Louisiana.