Property Owner Responsibility
Becoming a property owner comes with certain responsibilities. Property owners have expenses and are aware of the need for maintenance, but also there is a legal element to owning a property – specifically, commercial property/businesses that the public utilizes. Both local and federal governments have laws in place to hold property owners liable for the following scenarios.
An example of this type of situation could be a slippery driveway. One of your workers washed their car in the driveway. A client pulls in, steps out of their car and falls, injuring their arm. The reality of the situation is that the property owner will be held liable for this accident, plain and simple. This would be referred to in a courtroom more specifically as premises liability.
Premises liability is defined as the owner’s responsibility to maintain safety on the property and is a type of legal case when property owners and managers stand in defense to various torts that may occur. It is worth noting that trespassers, people not invited or expected to be on a certain property, in most cases are unable to pursue a premises liability claim.
Of course, there must be certain proof for this liability to be applied. Like most cases, the defendant must be proven to actually own the property. Also, the plaintiff must have been invited or allowed to be on the property. And lastly, similar to other injury cases, negligence must have taken place. Some interruption in care for the property or a wrongful act has occurred. Then what happens if the defendant is found guilty? The plaintiff will recover compensation in medical bills, lost wages, even pain, and suffering; all with the help of a personal injury attorney.
Another element of property owner responsibility is the duty of the owner to know their surroundings and to know about previous accidents/occurrences. This must be researched and known by the property owner in order for them to determine any possible security risks. Lack of security on the property is another area where the owner can be held liable and these cases are a form of premises liability referred to as negligent security cases.
To put this idea in perspective, picture a local bar on a street that has had some gang incidents in the past couple of months. A woman leaves the bar one night and is beaten so badly by this gang that she has to be placed in the ICU. Her family sues the owner with the accusations that there were previous incidents and the bar owner should have known this attack could happen. Is this possible?
Yes, in fact, the owner did have a responsibility to take measures into his own hands when he heard about the other incidents taking place with this gang. Since no guard was hired, and no security was installed to protect the patrons, the owner would be in fact considered negligent.