Property owners have the responsibility to maintain safe conditions on their properties to prevent injury to visitors and other individuals authorized to enter the property. This responsibility is known as the property owner’s duty of care. Whether a property owner violated his or her duty of care to cause a victim’s injury is the crux of any premises liability claim. When individuals file a premises liability claim, they are alleging that he or she was injured because a property owner failed to take reasonable care to uphold his or her duty of care, also known as the standard of care, to prevent injuries to guests.
What is the Property Owner’s Standard of Care?
A property owner’s standard of care is the uniform standard to which he or she must take care to prevent injury to invitees, individuals who enter the property for commercial reasons like making purchases or conducting business, and licensees, individuals who enter the property with the owner’s consent, such as social guests. The only individuals not covered by the standard of care are trespassers, individuals who enter the property illegally. This does not mean that property owners may intentionally harm trespassers; they simply may not be held liable for trespassers’ damages following injuries due to hazards on the property.
Deviating from the standard of care is an act of negligence on the part of a property owner.
What is Reasonable Care?
Reasonable care refers to how a property owner upholds the standard of care for his or her licensees and invitees. It refers to any action that a property owner would reasonably take to prevent injury and harm to these groups while they are on the premises. The following actions are examples of reasonable care:
- Cleaning up a wet spill in a timely manner and when this cannot be done, placing a warning on the spill to notify guests of the hazard. This requires not only responsiveness to spills and other accidents, but regular surveillance of the property to catch such accidents quickly;
- Providing sufficient safety features on a property, such as handrails on the staircases;
- Maintaining a clean, uncluttered, well-lit property;
- Making all necessary repairs in a timely manner. When this cannot be done, adequately warning guests of broken equipment with caution tape or through other means may be sufficient; and
- Installing and maintaining proper security features, such as a fence, a video surveillance system, a well-trained security team, or identity verification for all parties entering the property.
Work with an Experienced New York Negligence Attorney
If you are suffering from an injury that could have been avoided if a property owner or manager had taken better care to remove hazards from a property, consider working with an experienced negligence lawyer to seek the compensation you deserve through a premises liability claim. To learn more, contact our team at Grant & Longworth, Attorneys at Law today to set up your initial consultation in our office.