Premises liability is the legal theory that property owners are liable for any accidents or injuries that occur on their premises. According to this legal theory, the owner of the property owes a standard of care to protect any lawful visitor from injury. Even an unlawful visitor, such as a trespasser, is owed a duty by the owner to refrain from willfully harming the trespasser.
When a premises liability lawsuit is filed, the plaintiff must prove that the property owner had a standard of care toward visitors, and that there was a breach in this standard of care which resulted in injury. Common situations in which premises liability lawsuits occur include:
- dog bites
- slip and falls
- swimming pool injuries
- inadequate maintenance or inadequate security
- retail store or restaurant claims
Commercial property and apartment complexes are not usually liable for the injuries of guests to the premises, as they are presumably the invitees of the tenant. Exceptions to this occur where there are structural defects, dangerous conditions or inadequate security, and if the landlord has been negligent in making repairs to the building.
Who is the guest?
North Carolina no longer makes a distinction of the duty of care owed to a guest who was a licensee, and therefore on the property for their benefit and not that of the property owner, or an invitee, whose presence was for the mutual benefit of both parties. A third distinction is for the uninvited guest, or the trespasser.
The duty of care standard requires that the property owner exercise reasonable care to protect any lawful guest, invitee or licensee, from injury. But the North Carolina property owner also owes a duty to refrain from willfully harming an unlawful guest, or trespasser.
What kinds of premises liability suits are there?
Many establishments, such as hotels, retail stores or restaurants, may be held liable for injury from a slip and fall on the premises, especially if there are wet tiles or ice or snow on the steps. Government entities can be held liable for faulty road conditions or maintenance.
Property owners can be held liable for property defects or improper maintenance or security. Where dog bites occur or there are injuries or drownings at public or private swimming pools, the property owners are responsible for giving adequate warnings, and owe a higher standard of care if children are injured as a result.
If you have been injured due to the negligence or neglect by a property owner, it is important to seek an experienced Cumberland County premises liability attorney who can help you fight for the compensation you deserve for your injuries.