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Who Can Be Held Liable For Premises Liability?


Premises liability law is often used to protect the rights of tenants or visitors who are injured or whose property suffers damage while visiting or doing business on someone else’s property.

Generally speaking, the duty to repair and maintain property and improvements arises from “ownership,” “control,” or “possession” of property. This means that premises liability can attach not only to owners of land, but anyone with the right to possess or control property. While liability does not always arise from every injury or every incident in which people or property are damaged, anyone who owns, manages, possesses, or controls real property (or improvements on real property, such as buildings, parks, and play areas) should be aware of–and understand the rights and liabilities associated with–premises liability law.


Land owners–and other people who qualify to be held liable under premises liability law–generally owe two separate types of duties to people who enter upon their property.

First, the general duty of care. People who own, control, or possess real property must exercise ordinary care in managing and maintaining the property.

Second, the affirmative duty to prevent harm or injury. This duty requires the landlord or property owner (or, in some cases, the person responsible for managing or controlling the property) to take action to prevent certain people from suffering injuries or other harm. This affirmative duty generally arises where the law recognizes a special relationship between the property owner (or other appropriate defendant) and people who enter the land or use improvements on the land. Examples of legally recognized special relationships include (but are not limited to) landlord-tenant and business-customer.

The court will determine whether or not the duty applies in a given situation based on the facts and circumstances of each case. However, many of these duties are created by statutes (written laws), allowing attorneys to help plaintiffs–and property owners–evaluate their legal rights and obligations.


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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