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The concept of premises liability applies to cases in which an unsafe condition on someone’s property contributed to the injury of a visitor. Harm caused in premises liability cases can come in many forms, but it is the property owner’s responsibility to prevent potential damages. Evaluation of premise liability cases depends on the status of the visitor, and there are a few defenses that property owners can use. In the event that harm comes to you outside your home or occurs to a visitor on your property, an attorney can help you sort out the details.
Practically any injury-causing event that occurs on someone’s property can be cause for a premises liability case. Many premises liability cases deal with slips and falls on slick surfaces. This could be from a mopped floor with no proper warning or an icy parking lot that an owner should have melted down. Other cases of premises liability include dangerous situations like fires and chemical leaks. At the home, swimming pools are typically a major liability, especially when young children use the pool. Faulty mechanics in elevators or other machinery, as well as basic lack of maintenance, could be grounds for premises liability.
Most premises liability cases revolve around the principle that property owners are responsible for a “reasonable duty of care.” By inviting others onto their property, owners are legally obligated to provide a safe, well-maintained space and prevent any reasonably foreseeable harm. Premises liability is a form of negligence, and the law characterizes negligence by a breach in duty. In Minnesota, the duty of the landowner depends on the use of the land and the status of the visitor.
The law considers an entrant any person the owner permits to being on the premises. The owner has a responsibility to protect all entrants on the property from harm using reasonable care. Entrants must also use reasonable care to protect themselves from any potential danger. This means if an entrant knows about a hazardous condition, and he or she fails to use proper precautions to prevent harm, the property owner has not breached his or her duty. If the property owner allows an entrant on the land under specific conditions, and the entrant exceeds the scope of permission, the entrant becomes a trespasser.
Trespassers include those who do not have the expressed or implied consent of the landowner to be on the property. If a landowner fails to warn trespassers of dangerous conditions and harm comes as a result, the law still considers it a breach of duty. The landowner must be knowledgeable about the condition and its ability to cause harm.
A common defense attorney’s use in premises liability cases is that of obviousness. A risk on a property may be reasonably obvious and, therefore, no duty exists to the owner. If an activity’s danger is so obvious that a warning isn’t necessary, the law calls it an obvious risk. Another defense people use in premises liability cases is assumption of risk. If a guest knowingly engages in risky behavior when the action was clearly avoidable, the law says it would be a primary assumption of the risk. The Minnesota Comparative Fault Act states that contributory fault may not bar partial or full recovery.
If you are facing a premises liability case as either the defendant or plaintiff, the team at Knutson + Casey can use its experience and knowledge of injury law to protect your rights and recover compensation for damages. Our firm cares about our clients and will do whatever we can within the scope of the law to establish the grounds for your case and pursue damages. Give us a call for a free consultation in Minneapolis.