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Broad, varied and dangerous: the premises liability realm

| Oct 20, 2020 | Personal Injury |

It’s not a laughing matter, even though it has often been portrayed in a comical and slapstick way on television shows and in movies.

To clarify: A shopper going airborne and landing hard on his or her back after encountering a banana peel negligently discarded on a grocery store floor is funny only when fictionalized. A person surrounded by a pack of snarling dogs does not generally placate them in real life. Instead, that individual often ends up in a hospital with serious injuries or fails to survive beyond a final violent moment.

The real world of so-called “premises liability” is a diverse landscape of nearly limitless injurious catalysts and linked downsides for innocent parties victimized by third-party negligence.

A deep pool of examples to underscore premises liability                             

Even a cursory bullet-point list of entrants prominent in the premises liability universe is lengthy and notably diverse. It centrally includes accidents and resulting injuries owing to agents like these:

  • Shoddy maintenance/clean-up leading to slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall outcomes (note that above banana scenario)
  • Unprovoked animal bites and attacks (and not just involving dogs)
  • Floor/stairway/ladder/sidewalk defects
  • Inadequate security in malls, parking lots, theaters and other public places
  • Negligently supervised and/or improperly maintained and secured swimming pools
  • Collapsing decks and porches
  • Slippery conditions caused by unremoved snow, ice and water

That list could go on. The bottom line it underscores, as noted in one legal source, is that “premises liability covers a broad range of property-related accidents.”

Who is accountable, and who can seek a legal recovery?

Colorado law requires property owners to maintain premises they control in a condition that is safe and secure for third parties.

Here’s a key point regarding individuals and businesses deemed legally accountable for premises liability injuries: Property owners are expansively and liberally defined.

That is, injured parties can file legal claims seeking maximum compensation against not just persons/entities that own property, but parties empowered to manage and maintain it, as well. Additionally, contractors, vendors and even commercial and residential tenants can be targeted for injury-causing negligence in a premises liability matter.

The aforementioned legal overview makes a key liability-linked point, namely, that property owners’ safety burdens are not routinely the same in every instance. That is, “they do not have the same duty to all people.”

That means that an injured person’s status (e.g., invitee, licensee, social guest, trespasser) can be centrally important in the filing of a legal claim and its outcome. A proven personal injury attorney can speak to that point.

Premises liability laws exist to promote public safety. Injured individuals might reasonably seek to invoke them when they suffer personal harm owing to another party’s negligence.