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Premises Liability

Premises liability cases involve accidents happening upon someone else's property. In premises liability, property owners and businesses have a duty to provide a safe environment for individuals.

 

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Some common types of premises liability cases involve accidents for uneven floor surfaces, slippery surfaces, broken sidewalks, poorly marked changes in elevation, broken steps and uneven elevators.

Besides the common slip and fall accident, there are numerous other premises liability accidents of which one must be aware.

For instance, crime which has been a known problem for hotels, shopping centers or other businesses who have neglected to protect their customers and other visitors has seen much action in the courts within the past few years.

In addition, other premises liability cases can involve injuries or property loss due to negligence, defects of the property, explosions, fire and animal attacks to name a few. More recently a rash of asbestos cases have also caught the nation's attention and these may fall into the realm of premises liability as well or else they are considered in product liability cases. Exposure to asbestos in building materials and other materials such as brake linings has been linked to a particular type of cancer called mesothelioma.

In recent years, another type of premises liability has emerged surrounding security at shopping malls, hotels, mass transit and other businesses. Excessive use of force, or an inadequate security force or efforts by the force have been the premise for many premises liability cases.

This comes on the heals of many courts ruling that security for such facilities is not the sole responsibility of the police departments. According to the courts, "Merchants have a duty to provide adequate protection to their customers and that duty cannot be transferred to a third party."

In the past, businesses have let security companies define their own standards of acceptable performance. But with this "fox guarding the henhouse" approach it has become increasing clear in the courts it is the business management who much define such adequate performance standards and hold their security vendors to those standards.

On a smaller scale landlords need to take note since many recent premises liability lawsuits have been leveled because of inadequate security at apartment and condominium complexes. The number one issue for landlords (and the most correctable) has been the complaint of inadequate or defective door locks and latches to prevent violent and non-violent crimes.

In regards to premises liability, it is the duty of most property owners to be aware of the risks associated with the property and to make reasonable efforts to minimize those risks. In order for this to happen, an adequate security plan needs to be in place and good documentation needs to be kept in the case of an accident and / or court case.

Many property owners mistakenly think that general liability insurance covers civil action awards, but some states do no allow insurance companies to pay the punitive damages levied against the insured by the courts. The best course of action, then is to come up with a plan, take action and document that reasonable safety precautions and security measures are being taken.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

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