Premises liability is an area of the law that seeks to hold property owners liable whenever someone is injured on their properties due to the property owner’s negligence. This extends to residential property owners, commercial property owners, and even local, state and federal government agencies that own property in Pennsylvania. When you are lawfully present on someone else’s property, there is a duty of care owned to you by the property owner to ensure that you are not exposed to dangerous conditions; you have a reasonable expectation that you’ll be safe when you pick up your dry cleaning or stop by the supermarket for groceries. When property owners fail to operate with that standard of care owed to all who enter their premises, they subject themselves to premises liability claims. If you have been hurt on someone else’s property, our Doylestown premises liability attorney can help you get the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
Duty of Care
There are so many ways that you can get injured on someone else’s property—from slipping on ice on a sidewalk to tripping over a rug in a hotel lobby. Whenever you experience an injury on property that you were legally entitled to be in or on, you can hold the person who owns the property accountable for your injuries. However, you and your attorney will need to prove that the owner was negligent for your claim to succeed.
Whenever someone enters a property, whether it’s a gas station, school, hospital, amusement park, or a personal residence, the owner of that property has a duty of care to lawful visitors. So, if a property is open to the public, all who enter have a reasonable expectation that they’ll be safe while they are on the property. The same goes for residential homes; if you are invited to a backyard barbecue by your friend, you have an assumption of safety, so you don’t expect to be attacked by the friend’s dangerous dog running around when you get there.
Successful premises liability claims have four elements that must be true:
- The property owner owed you a duty of care to ensure your safety.
- The property owner breached that duty.
- Due to the breach in the property owner’s duty, you incurred an injury.
- Your injury is serious enough for damages to be awarded.
A duty of care is owed to almost all who enter a property. The exception is trespassers. The only duty owned to them is the duty to not inflict intentional injury on them. However, children are not considered trespassers if you the property owner has an attraction on his property that might entice them to enter anyway, such as a trampoline or swimming pool. In this instance, the property owner must take safeguards to ensure that children or others cannot access the attraction, such as by erecting a fence.
As you can see, premises liability is not cut and dry. Consult with our Doylestown premises liability attorney now to find out if you have a case and discuss your legal options moving forward.