Elements of Premises Liability & Slip and Fall Cases

Slip and fall cases are one type of premises liability case, which is a legal term that involves holding property owners responsible for accidents and injuries that result due to the owner's negligence. As simple as it may seem, it is not. The person’s “status” and reason for being on the property are factored into the claim. Those who suffer injuries in a slip and fall case while on another person’s property should contact an Atlanta slip and fall attorney for assistance when pursuing this type of claim.

Visitor Status in Slip and Fall Cases

A property owner’s duty to those who enter the property depends on the visitor’s status and, thus, right to be on the property. There are three main types of visitors:

  • Invitee – An invitee is someone who the property owner invited to enter the premises for commercial purposes or to conduct business with the property owner. This could be a customer at a store.
  • Licensee – This is a person who enters the property by invitation but for purposes other than business. A social guest is an example.
  • Trespasser – A trespasser has not been invited to the property and has no legal right to be present there.

In many cases, a case of premises liability will depend largely on whether the victim was on the property legally or illegally. Injury victims on the property illegally may have more difficulty recovering compensation for their damages, although this isn't always the case.

Standard of Care in Slip and Fall Cases

Property owners have a duty to keep their property safe for visitors. At a place of business, this includes cleaning up spills promptly and posting signs warning customers to exercise caution around potentially dangerous situations. At a residence, this includes maintaining the property and warning visitors of any dangers.

Whether or not a property owner has exercised reasonable care depends on the following elements:

  • whether or not the visitor entered the property legally;
  • whether or not the injury could have been prevented; and
  • the property owner’s effort to warn the visitor of the dangerous situation.

Property Owner Liability for Slip and Fall Cases

A property owner can be held liable for injuries caused to an invitee or licensee if the following conditions exist:

  • there is an unreasonable risk of harm;
  • the invitee or licensee could not have foreseen the danger;
  • the property owner is aware of a potentially harmful condition; and
  • the property owner did not fix the situation or warn the victim of the danger.

It can be difficult to determine if a property owner should have been aware of a dangerous situation. An Atlanta slip and fall attorney can examine the case and help determine if these elements are present.

However, if the victim trespassed on the property at the time of injury, the property owner generally owes the person no duty. Because the person was uninvited, property owners do not have to give a trespasser that benefit. If the property owner is aware of the trespasser's presence, he or she may have a duty to maintain the property by exercising ordinary care.

Contacting an Atlanta Slip and Fall Attorney

A slip and fall may rely heavily on the visitor's status at the time of the accident. While this may be straightforward in many cases, in others it may not be. Attorney Jason R. Schultz understands the often complex elements involved in premises liability cases. He can provide legal representation to those dealing with a serious injury stemming from a slip and fall case on another's property. Call (404) 474-0804.