What Is Premises Liability?
Property owners have a legal obligation to keep their property reasonably maintained and safe for visitors. When they fail to do so, accidents happen. If someone is injured on your property, and the injury resulted from your negligence as a property owner, you may be held liable. This can lead to a premises liability lawsuit.
Common conditions that can lead to an accident include:
- Wet or slippery floors and walkways
- Broken pathways
- Objects blocking walkways
- Crumbling or unstable stairs
- Loose or missing handrails
- Inadequate or missing lighting
- Unrestrained animals, such as dogs
A property owner can even be held responsible for injuries arising from criminal activity or other security issues if it is determined that the incident was foreseeable or predictable.
What Can You Do as a Property Owner?
As a property owner, ensuring that your property is safe for visitors should be a priority. Many premises liability injury cases could have been easily prevented had the property owner taken more care. Paying attention to your property's condition and staying on top of repairs and problems can help you protect your visitors from injury. Keep reading for some tips on making your property safer for visitors.
Inspect Your Property for Dangerous Conditions
Accidents often occur because of dangerous conditions. Understanding your property and where these conditions might exist is critical to protecting your visitors from injury. Common examples of hazardous conditions are swimming pools, staircases, loose animals, exposed wiring, and tripping hazards.
Regularly inspect your property, taking note of situations like these. You will then want to repair and secure what you can, and secure what cannot be repaired. For example, if you have a swimming pool, make sure that it is fenced off and that children cannot access it. While waiting for a repair, cordon off the area and post signage warning of the hazardous condition.
Be Proactive & Take Preventative Measures
Relatedly, suppose your property is prone to hazardous conditions, such as walkways that become icy in the winter or steps that are hard to see in the dark. In that case, you should take preventative measures to ensure that these conditions do not lead to an injury. Install appropriate lighting so that visitors can see where they are going and de-ice your walkways or place signs or barriers to prevent people from walking on slippery walkways.
Make Repairs Promptly
As a property owner, it is your responsibility to make repairs and keep your property maintained. Properties that are in disrepair are more likely to have dangerous conditions. These hazardous conditions cause injuries. For example, a broken walkway can lead to a fractured ankle, while a loose or missing stair can cause someone to fall and hit their head. You can help prevent these injuries from happening by taking note of any repair problems on your property and fixing them as soon as possible.
Keep Pathways Clear of Obstructions
Whether you own a home or a retail store, obstructions in walkways often cause injury. Even something as small as a rope across a pathway can cause someone to trip and fall, leading to an injury. Regularly inspect your property for obstructions or hazards in pathways and have them removed immediately. Do not leave equipment or objects in walkways, and if placed next to a walkway, make sure they do not overhang into the pathway.
Have Appropriate Insurance
If you are a property owner, it is vitally important to have liability insurance for your property. Premises liability insurance can help protect you if someone is injured on your property. Like car insurance, if someone is injured while visiting your property, your premises liability insurance may cover the costs associated with their injury.
It is important to remember that medical care is very expensive, especially for significant injuries. Shop around and discuss your coverage limits with your insurance broker to ensure that you have adequate coverage. It is also worth asking about umbrella coverage to protect you in situations where the costs associated with an injury exceed your insurance limits.