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The scope of premises in premises liability cases

On Behalf of | Oct 12, 2023 | Premises Liability

Property owners have a vital duty of care – to ensure a safe environment that prevents injuries to anyone stepping onto their premises. This duty places the burden on property owners and residents for accidents and injuries occurring on their property.

Establishing this duty of care is crucial in any premises liability case. However, it is equally important to determine the scope of the premises for which the property owner is responsible. Knowing the exact boundaries can be the prerequisite that determines the outcome of the case.

Limiting liability

By law, property owners are accountable not just for their property but also for the areas right next to the entryways of the property. These entryways are where people come and go for business reasons. Owners are only responsible for the nearby spots around these entry points. For example, responsibility may not cover the distant grassy area or rock near a hotel ground.

Expanding responsibility

Property owners can extend their liability by taking affirmative actions such as constructing sidewalks or ramps. These actions essentially expand the boundaries of their responsibility.

However, if the extension in question reaches a public way, the owner’s duty shifts to exercising ordinary care within the confines of their rights in that public space. This excludes any obligation to maintain traffic control devices on public streets.

Shifting responsibility

Owners can hand over responsibility for some areas to a contractor. But, if owners still control the place or watch over the contractor, they might still be on the hook for what happens there. The same goes for general contractors who run a construction site.

Establishing clarity

By establishing what areas are under their control, property owners can defend against or acknowledge liability for accidents or injuries on their property. This clarity helps to allocate responsibility accurately. It helps ensure that justice is served in accordance with the law.