Property owners have an obligation to the public to maintain safe facilities. This obligation is especially important for businesses that make their spaces open to others, although it does also apply to those who own a residence and allow people to come visit them.
Most people going in and out of spaces like retail stores will assume that the facility is safe. Unfortunately, people do get seriously hurt inside businesses and on private property every day. In some cases, these individuals may have grounds to take legal action against the business or the property owner.
Understanding when a slip-and-fall accident or similar event creates premises liability for a property owner can make it easier for you to determine if you have an actionable claim after you get hurt on someone else’s property.
Most premises liability claims relate to negligence
Business and property owners must maintain safe facilities or deal with the financial liability that results if someone gets hurt while in their building or on their property. Realistically speaking, there is no foolproof way for a business to mitigate 100% of the liability they incur when they allow the public into their space. Different people have different mobility capabilities, which means that a space that is safe for the vast majority of the public could result in a fall for someone with vertigo or similar issues.
Provided that the business has done everything in its power to mitigate the risk that visitors would have while on their property, someone who slips and then falls on a well-maintained and clean floor may not have much of a claim against the business. However, someone who slips in a puddle of water or who falls because of an unaddressed spill of merchandise on the floor could, theoretically, hold the business accountable for the financial impact of their injuries, including the cost of medical care and lost wages.
Generally speaking, a claimant will have to have some kind of evidence that negligence on the part of the business directly contributed to the scenario in which they wound up hurt. Proving negligence often requires showing that other reasonable people in the same situation would not have taken the same actions. Whether it was a lack of signage on a wet floor after mopping or a failure to clean a spill, oversights and mistakes by the property owner or manager can result in liability risks.