Generally, the individual or entity that owns the property is responsible for any injuries occurring on the property. That is not always the case, however. There may be a situation where the property involved is commercial property or leased property. For this reason, determining who is at fault in a premises liability case can be complicated. So, when clients ask “is the property owner the only person responsible for my injuries,” the answer often depends on the situation.
Owner versus occupier
There are many situations where the person or business that occupies a certain property is not the same as the owner. For instance, the property owner may be renting space to another business. The same is true for landlord and tenant situations. So, when the owner and occupier are different, who is ultimately responsible for an injury occurring on the premises? The answer depends on the type of property involved, as well as other factors.
Liability for injuries on Commercial Property
Liability for injuries that occur at an office, store or other business will depend, in part, on what the lease or any other business agreement says about liability issues. In many cases, the business will have liability insurance coverage that may apply to your claims. This is why it is important to immediately report any injuries you sustain to the business management, so their insurance carrier can be notified.
Injuries on Private Residences
Injuries occurring at a residence are much simpler to deal with. The most important factor in determining liability is the type of residence. In other words, if the residence is a rented apartment, then you must consider the liability of not only the occupants of the residence, but also the landlord. It is typically the landlord who is responsible for maintaining most areas of a rented apartment.
Landlord versus tenant
Landlord tenant law is usually pretty uniform in that the landlord is responsible for everything outside the apartment unit itself. This would include areas such as entrances, stairways and hallways. Landlords are also responsible for immovable objects, such as floors, walls, fixtures and any appliances that were already in the apartment. Consequently, the tenant is responsible for his or her own things, which are the movable things inside the apartment. There may be an exception, however, if the tenant knew about a dangerous condition inside the apartment, relating to something immovable, but says nothing, the tenant may be liable along with the landlord.
Injuries occurring on Adjoining Properties
In some rare situations, an injury could occur on the property line between two adjoining properties. As such, determining who is liable can be especially difficult, because it may not be clear right away whose property caused the injury. The best thing to do is file a notice of claim against both owners and they can sort out who is responsible.
If you have questions regarding premises liability, or any other personal injury concerns, call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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