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Dangerous property conditions and liability

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2020 | Personal Injury |

Unless you never leave your own property, you are putting yourself in the care of other people. Whether or not they are liable if you sustain an injury on their property depends on a number of factors, though.

Here is what the Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute says about premises liability.


Do you have a right to be on the property? This is an important element of a premises liability lawsuit. If you were trespassing, the property owner likely does not have a duty to make sure you are safe.

If the property is a retail store, restaurant or other business where you expect to make purchases of goods or services that benefit the property owner, then he or she may be liable for your injuries. If it is private property but there is a sidewalk, whether the property owner or another party is responsible for its upkeep depends on local regulations. Liability may be difficult to determine in this case.


Even though a dangerous condition exists, it does not follow that the property owner is automatically liable. The duty of care only applies if the property owner knows or should have known about the issue. So, for example, if you are in a store and slip on water that another customer just spilled, the manager may not be likely to know about it yet.

On the other hand, if there is overspray on the floor in the produce department, the manager probably should have known. To prevent the tile from becoming wet and hazardous, the manager should put down rugs or fix the pipes so that the spray does not reach the floor.

Often, a judge must determine whether the property owner should have known based on the details of the individual case.

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