What Are the Safety Responsibilities of a Business and Property Owner?
Owners of a property, whether a home or business, are legally responsible for keeping it safe. When they don’t, slip and fall and other personal injury accidents can cause serious injuries and even death. Hazards include uneven surfaces, wet floors, poor security, or falling objects. Premises liability is the legal responsibility of a property owner or occupier to protect others. If they don’t exercise reasonable care in managing their premises, it’s called breach of duty.
The duty to keep a property reasonably safe falls on owners and tenants. If individuals are lawfully on the property, their safety depends on the appropriate party’s obligation to:
- Inspect the property
- Repair dangerous conditions
- Warn visitors of possible danger
- Maintain safety and security
What Is Reasonable?
It’s often unclear what reasonable precautions are. There is no measurement for reasonability. However, the law defines reasonable as what someone with an ordinary level of intelligence and judgement would do in a situation similar to the case in question.
Keeping a Property Safe
The responsibility to keep a property safe falls on a few key areas:
- Personal safety: Spilled liquids, damaged steps, poor lighting, or improper positioning of merchandise can result in slip and fall accidents, which can cause broken bones, neck/back injuries, and torn ligaments.
- Maintenance: A property owner has a duty to address loose carpeting, uneven sidewalks, broken glass, and other hazards. If it can be proven an owner or responsible party ignored a maintenance issue, they can be held liable.
- Security: If you are a victim of a crime on someone’s property, they may be liable if an assault or other criminal action took place, and proper steps to prevent such activity were neglected, such as installing locks, barriers, alarm systems, or security cameras.
- Staffing: As a business owner, you’re responsible for the actions of your employees on the job. You could be held liable for negligent hiring if an employee harms a customer intentionally or by accident, or by overlooking their criminal past.
A property owner’s duties and responsibilities also apply to three legal categories of people:
- Invitees: Individuals invited by the possessor of the property, who is obligated to take reasonable precautions to ensure a safe environment. Reasonable actions include conducting regular inspections or keeping trafficked areas such as hallways and stairwells free of obstructions.
- Licensees: People present for a social function or other reason. Legally, the expected level of care owed to a licensee is lower, but property owners are still required to maintain safe conditions and protect visitors from known hazards.
- Trespassers: Property owners don’t have a duty to protect trespassers. But if they know trespassers are frequently present, they can be liable if unsafe conditions were created intentionally, reasonable care wasn’t taken to mitigate hazards, or they failed to provide warning. Willful harm to a trespasser is forbidden.
A property owner who fails to keep their property safe is legally and financially responsible for harm to anyone injured as a result.
Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
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