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
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
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.