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The three criteria of premises liability

Anyone who owns a plot of property, from a landlord to a store owner, is responsible for the conditions of that property. This duty of care requires landowners to maintain their property and keep conditions safe for visitors.

The duty of care is also the reason that property owners could be liable if someone suffers an injury, such as a severe fall, on their property. Individuals must prove three essential criteria if they want to pursue a premises liability claim against a negligent property owner.

1. The injured individual deserved duty of care

The elements of a property owner's duty of care change depending on the individual. For example, property owners do not owe any duty to trespassers.

The duty of care generally applies to people who have a right to be on the property. Such people often include:

  • Residents or guests
  • Visitors, such as shop customers
  • Inspectors or maintenance workers

2. The property owner was negligent in maintaining the property

On rainy days, it is common to see the yellow signs cautioning that floors are slippery in Seattle businesses. That is an example of property owners meeting the high standards of their duty of care. A responsible store owner would mop up wet floors as much as they could, as well as place a warning sign for customers just in case.

It would be negligent if that store owner did not mop up the floor or warn customers of the dangerous conditions. People injured in a situation like this must prove that the property owner provided improper or non-existent maintenance that led to severe hazards on their property.

3. The dangerous conditions led to an injury

It is also necessary to prove that the hazards from that negligent maintenance resulted in a severe injury. If the property owner could have repaired the hazard, then they are accountable for any significant injuries. 

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