Is local liability synonymous with negligence?

Negligence is a broader term that must be demonstrated in all types of personal injury cases, including death, malpractice and liability for premises.

Premise liability is a subset of a more general term known as negligence. Premise liability is the responsibility of a business owner, owner, or even a renter to keep their premises safe for visitors, guests, and even annoying salespeople who literally get their feet in the door.

Negligence can apply to any act that can harm another person. It includes liability for premises, but negligence is an integral part of any personal injury, not just liability for premises. It is one of three things that must be demonstrated in order to establish liability.

Gross negligence is defined as total disregard for safety aspects and the safety of other people. If proven, the victim can receive punitive damages as well as compensation for their injuries.

Typical premise liability cases

You can file a civil liability lawsuit for injuries caused to personal property, including business property. Owners must maintain a safe environment for visitors whether they are shopping at a company, visiting as friends, or just walking around their premises for a legitimate purpose.

Failure to keep your property safe and free of danger could result in a public liability lawsuit for injuring visitors.

Growling dog. Image via US Air Force. Public domain.

General security risks on private property that can lead to visitor injury include:

  • Dogs or other animals that bite, kick, or stomp
  • Risk of slipping and falling
  • Badly maintained swimming pools and ponds
  • Dangerous areas like junk yards and wrecked car lots
  • Negligent, inadequate or no assurance when justified
  • Child hazards
  • Slips, falls, bodily harm, falling goods, and other hazards in a retail store
  • Unsafe food, drunk waiters or guests, food poisoning, fights between customers, accidents on the dance floor in restaurants and bars, etc.

Injuries during the rental usually do not lead to liability on the part of the landlord, as the tenant is held responsible for them. Some exceptions are hidden and dangerous conditions that the tenant was unaware of. Landlords are also responsible for injuries caused by dirt, tools, and work performed during repairs or routine maintenance.

Slips caused by transient substances

Laws regarding temporary substances vary from state to state, so hiring a local attorney is always the best strategy to file a personal injury claim. For example, Florida laws exempt the owner from liability for a slip of a temporary substance, unless the victim can demonstrate that staff were actively aware of the danger.

An oil leak can cause an accident, but if the car leaks right before the accident, the garage or gas station may not know about it. So the dangerous state has to persist long enough for sensible leaders to notice and correct it.

The staff, owner, or renter should have noticed and removed the fabric as a reasonable duty of care.

Qualified visitors

Some states make a distinction as to who is able to claim damages from a liability case for premises. This is based on visitor status, which is typically defined as either invited participant, licensee, or intruder. An invited person is anyone who pays a visit or does business in a publicly accessible store.

The same applies to licensees who have a business relationship with the owner. Intruders are treated differently. People with no valid reason to be on the property who are injured may not be eligible for compensation even if the property owner was aware of the safety hazard that caused the accident.

However, if it has been demonstrated that the owner expected someone to enter his property, liability can be granted. In these cases, it is important that the owner not intentionally place obstacles on their property to cause injury or they could face criminal charges.

Bottom line

Negligence is a broader term that must be demonstrated in all types of personal injury cases, including death, malpractice and liability for premises. So, liability for premises is not synonymous with negligence, although under the laws on liability for premises a negligent homeowner may be held responsible for injuries caused to their property as a result of their negligence.

In most states, hiring a local liability attorney can help you decide whether to prosecute a personal injury case or accept the injury as largely your own fault. If your negligence contributed to the injury, the owner may only be responsible for a small percentage of the damage, but that depends on the common fault laws of each state.

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