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Understanding the Property Owner’s Duty of Care

PEOPLE WHO OWN REAL PROPERTY HAVE A DUTY NOT TO CREATE AN UNREASONABLE RISK OF HARM

People who own real property have a legal duty to own, use, and manage their property (and any improvements on it, like buildings, fixtures, and equipment) with reasonable “due care.” This includes an obligation to own, use, manage and maintain the property (and all fixtures and improvements) in a way that does not create an unreasonable risk of harm to any person or to other property.

The law imposes an obligation for property owners to act as a reasonable person would under the circumstances. Essentially, this means a property owner must repair, maintain, and use property (and improvements and fixtures) in a reasonable way. However, some exceptions do exist, for example where the property owner has a legally-recognized special relationship with some other person or entity, where the property is used for certain types of “hazardous activities,” or where the law imposes a special additional duty of care.

For these reasons, it’s important for property owners to consult an attorney if there is any question about whether or not their property use and the condition of the property complies with this legal duty. While property should always be used and maintained in a manner that complies with all applicable laws and legal obligations (for example, building codes and health and safety codes) compliance with applicable laws may not always be enough. In some cases, property owners may be liable for negligence even if the property fully complies with applicable laws. It’s important to know your legal rights and maintain your property carefully, and in reasonably safe condition, to avoid legal liability under premises liability (and other forms of negligence) law.

If you have any questions whether or not your property, and your maintenance or activities thereon, fulfills your legal duty, contact an experienced attorney promptly for an individual evaluation of your obligations and potential liability exposure.

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Disclaimer: THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY, AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE OR CREATE AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AUTHOR OR ROSS LAW AND ANY PERSON. Your rights and experiences may vary. Never use an online article (including this one) to evaluate your legal claims. Speak with an experienced lawyer promptly to obtain a personalized evaluation of your claims, possible damages, and options. You may lose or compromise your rights if you delay in consulting legal counsel. Most legal claims (and defenses) are complicated and fact-dependent. If you believe you have a claim against someone who injured you, a lawyer who represented you in a previous lawsuit, or any other type of legal claim, consult an experienced lawyer immediately for an evaluation of your personal rights and claims.

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