Premises Liability (Slip and Fall)

Injuries incurred from falls or dangerous conditions on land or in buildings are perhaps the most common accidental injuries in the United States. This area of the law is complex. There are many variables which go into the analysis of whether the facts of the case are sufficient to take the matter to a jury. Each case must be evaluated on its own because of the complexity of the issues. You should definitely obtain an attorney’s opinion here.

This area of the law covers numerous situations:

  • slipping on ice in a parking lot;
  • tenants who are injured by a landlord’s failure to maintain a safe rental;
  • motel or hotel guests who are injured because of unsafe stairways;
  • children who are injured by unsafe conditions on land or in a building, even if they are not there without permission;
  • tripping over an unsafe shopping cart used for big-box purchases at Best Buy, Costco or other retail stores;
  • tripping over parking lot curbs or holes in the pavement or sidewalks in disrepair;
  • convenience stores who fail to protect customers from reasonably foreseeable criminal conduct by 3rd persons (for example, allowing consumption of alcohol in the parking lot);

A lawsuit for negligence requires the plaintiff to prove that the defendant had a duty to the plaintiff, that the defendant negligently breached his duty and, as a result of the defendant’s negligence, plaintiff was injured.

In premises liability cases, the nature of the duty owed depends on the location of the incident and the relationship between the defendant and plaintiff. For instance, if one is invited to a friend’s house for dinner, the law describes that person as a “licensee”. The duty of a homeowner to a licensee or social guest is a duty to exercise reasonable care to avoid injuring a person who is on the land with permission and of whose presence the owner or occupier is, or should be, aware. The duty includes a duty to warn of dangerous conditions, the existence of which the social guest might not be aware.

If one goes to a retail store to shop, that person is described by the law as an “invitee”. The duty of a store owner to a customer is a duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain in a reasonably safe condition those portions of the premises that such person is expressly or impliedly invited to use or might reasonably be expected to use. The store owner’s obligation includes the duty to discover unreasonably dangerous conditions and to correct the dangerous condition.

If a person is on land or in a building without permission, law describes that person as a “trespasser”. The duty of the owner to a trespasser is a duty not to engage in willful or wanton misconduct only.

There are exceptions and permutations of the rules depending on such factors as whether the owner of land maintains an “attractive nuisance” such that he could expect young children to be enticed and attracted because of youthful curiosity. Contact us at and we can provide a free case evaluation.