You may have gotten mixed-up in a fight at a bar. Perhaps someone mugged you in a parking lot or you slipped and fell on a wet floor in a restaurant. All of these are examples of a law called “premises law," or the responsibility that a business owner has to protect their customers.
If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may have a right to collect damages to help you recover. There are specific conditions that have to be met, but if you have been hurt away from home it is always best to consult with an attorney simply to protect your rights.
What is premises law?
A store, restaurant, or any other property that is open to the general public has a basic responsibility to provide a safe space for their guests. The legal test to define that responsibility has been worked out in the courts, and is known generally as premises law.
Under premises law, anyone who is injured on someone else’s property has these tests to pass to determine if the owner of the property is liable:
- Whoever is in control of the property had a responsibility to provide a safe space for everyone who comes there.
- They failed to provide a safe space or in some way failed to protect those who came onto the property.
- You were injured because of the hazard or situation that they failed to prevent, and this has cost you in some way.
- The danger was “forseeable."
That last point is the most important, and it is deliberately vague. Was the danger something that anyone familiar with the business or situation should reasonably have seen coming?
Sometimes, a hazard is very obvious. The most common example of premises law is what is called a “slip and fall" type of injury, very often caused by a freshly mopped floor. If it is obvious to anyone who walks on it that the floor is slippery, it is forseeable that someone could fall and be seriously hurt.
Another common example is a bar where alcohol is served. It is common for people who drink too much to sometimes get into a fight, and those fights can be messy. It is not an owner’s responsibility to prevent all fights, but when one does break out the bar owner needs to have people and procedures in place to contain it quickly. Without them, it is forseeable that someone will be injured.
In many ways, it is common sense. It seems vague, but there have been many cases over the years which define “forseeable" in many situaitons.
Are you entitled to compensation?
If you sustained an injury that meets all the qualifications above, you have a case and can demand reasonable compensation. It takes an attorney with experience and skill in premises law to make the case, however.
Any injury on property owned by someone else needs to be reviewed to see if it is covered. There is no reason for anyone to suffer because of the negligence of someone else. If you have been injured, it is at least worth your time to consult and see if the property owner might be liable.