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Keeping Your Property Safe

Safe Property

Author: Hanson & Hanson/Thursday, February 6, 2014/Categories: Premises Liability

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Keeping the Premises Safe

A property owner, or a person in possession of property, has responsibilities regarding the safety of the premises. These responsibilities vary from state-to-state. They may even vary according to the type of visitors on the property. An attorney who is knowledgeable in the law of premises liability can advise you regarding the property owner's responsibilities under the law of your state.

Condition of the Property

In many states, the property owner, or other person in possession of the property (such as a tenant), must exercise reasonable care to make the premises safe for anyone on the premises lawfully (social guests, customers, etc.). This usually means that the property owner has the duty to inspect the property periodically, and either to repair dangerous conditions or to warn of the dangerous condition.

The frequency of the inspection, as well as the decision whether to repair or merely post a warning, will depend on a number of factors. For example, a property owner probably will be required to make more frequent inspections of a building lobby that has visitors entering and leaving fairly constantly than of an interior room with admission restricted to employees and seldom used. Similarly, it is likely that an exercise of reasonable care would require a property owner to replace burned-out light bulbs in a dark stairway, while a sign that draws attention to a slight incline may be sufficient for a well-lit hallway. The determination of whether a property owner's efforts are reasonable will depend upon all of the circumstances surrounding the use of the property.

Status People on the Property

In some states, a property owner has different duties to keep property safe. The duties vary according to the status of the person on the property. If a person is an invitee, he or she is on the property for the benefit of the owner of the property (for example, a customer in a retail store). Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees, and must take reasonable steps to ensure their safety. A licensee is on the property is a social guest, or someone who is on the property for his or her own purposes (for example, a salesperson or solicitor). A property owner has the duty to warn a licensee of known dangerous conditions, but has no duty to make an inspection of the property (it is sometimes said that a licensee uses the property in the same condition as the owner). A person on the property unlawfully is a trespasser, and the only legal duty owed is to refrain from actively creating conditions that would injure the trespasser.

In some states, the trend is to do away with the distinction between licensees and invitees, and consider only whether the person is on the property lawfully or unlawfully.

Conclusion

The rules regarding what a property owner must do to protect people on his or her property will vary, according to many different factors. An attorney experienced in the area of premises liability will be able to advise you of your duties.

Experienced Orlando Premises Liability Attorneys

Contact Hanson & Hanson's Central Florida Premises Liability Attorneys today for your free initial consultation. Contact us at 407-872-1212 or use the Free Case Review Form found on this page. We have Orlando Premises Liability Attorneys ready to meet with you now! 

We serve Wrongful Death Victims in in Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties.

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