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Premises Liability: Who Can be Held Responsible?

If you suffered an injury while you were on someone else’s property, who is liable to pay your medical bills? We reviewed this question below.

There is a rule of law that says property owners, even those that rent, need to take necessary steps to make sure their property is safe. If they fail to make their property safe and someone else suffers an injury while they are on it, the third party could sue them. This falls into an area of law called Premises Liability. It covers many things, from an injury in a store to an accident in a public park. 

What we want to know is who we can hold responsible when the worst happens? If we fall in the street and break a leg, who owes us reparations? 

Who is Responsible for Premises Accidents?

Responsibility for an accident on someone’s property is determined using different factors. Liability cannot go to the premises owner, for example, if the person filing the suit was on their property illegally. This prevents criminals from claiming recompense for injuries they receive while damaging your home or property. However, in serious cases, a judge could overlook this.

Other factors influencing who is at fault include whether the trespasser is a child or not, if the property owner and the rent payer are equally liable, the situation itself, and how everyone behaved afterwards. For example, a judge is unlikely to look kindly on a property owner who leaves someone to bleed on their property because they were accidentally trespassing. 

Different states have different rules on responsibility. In Florida, for example, the owner is liable unless the trespasser has a high enough blood alcohol level. The law covers premises owners taking reasonable action to dissuade trespassers, or at least to ensure their safety while they are on their grounds. If you need help with this type of case in Florida, you can hire a premises liability lawyer to guide you through the process. 

What is the Difference Between a Trespasser and a Guest?

The law makes a clear distinction between those who you legally invite to your property and those who are not. Those who are legally invited are ‘invitees.’ Those who are not are trespassers. However, you might have a trespasser who knows they are trespassing, and you might have one that does not. Further, you can have a ‘discovered’ trespasser, whom you catch on your property, or an ‘undiscovered’ trespasser, whom you do not. 

If a trespasser on your property is committing a felony act, they cannot claim compensation for their injuries against you. However, if a guest commits a felony act, the rules become more complex. There are different exceptions for social visitors and commercial visitors, too. 

What if My Accident Happened in Public?

Remember that this area of premises law extends to shops and public places. In the case of an accident to your person inside a store, the owner of the shop would be responsible. The exception to this might be if the property owner was due to fix a problem that injured a customer. In this case, the liability would be at least partially the landlord’s fault.You can also file a lawsuit for personal injury in public spaces with your state department.

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