Premises liability is an area of the law that allows someone who is harmed because of unsafe conditions on another party’s property to seek compensation for their injuries. The property owner has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety of lawful visitors. If they fail to take reasonable steps to keep the property in good condition, then they could be liable for any injury or loss if someone is hurt as a result. Today, Hankey Marks & Crider is offering seasonal tips for Indiana property owners to help them keep their premises safe over the holidays and avoid costly premises liability lawsuits.
What are Common Premises Liability Claims Around the Holidays?
Both home and business owners run additional risk for premises liability during the holidays. The unique aspects of a business or commercial property versus the home mean that residential property owners have different risks for premises liability than commercial ones.
Premises Liability Risks Businesses Face
Slip and fall accidents are common in the winter months. Shoppers could track ice, snow, and slush into stores, making entryways perilous. Hanging holiday decorations could come loose and fall on someone. Poorly installed electric decorations, like holiday lights, could short out, possibly electrocuting someone or even starting a fire.
Negligent security is a big risk commercial property owners face, as a customer who’s injured on these premises could argue that the injury occurred because the property owner failed to provide a safe environment. Shopping centers, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants may require additional security to prevent crime. Theft or assault is common in shopping areas, as are vehicle break-ins. The holidays are also a time when more people drink than usual or drink more than they otherwise would. Alcohol may be a contributing factor to fights or assaults, so bars, clubs, and other places that serve adult beverages may wish to have additional security or management presence.
Security doesn’t stop with having extra staff. A commercial building owner may be sued because the property has insufficient lighting, making it dangerous for people to park or walk in and out of the building. Broken locks or other failures to maintain adequate security could also lead to a premises liability lawsuit.
Residential Property Owners Also Face Premises Liability Risk
If a visitor to your home gets hurt because of an unsafe condition you should reasonably have corrected, they can sue for their medical bills and other losses. Your homeowner’s insurance policy should generally cover their claim, although the circumstances of the injury will affect your coverage.
The festive holiday season often means more visitors and house guests than usual. If you don’t take proper precautions, those visitors could be at risk of injury due to the following:
- Trip hazards – These dangers include clutter on the floors, extension cords, or even presents. Staircases are also potential trip hazards due to poor lighting or rolled-up carpet edges.
- Slick walkways and stairs – Be sure to shovel snow and salt any entry paths or walkways on your property regularly. These can become serious slip hazards if ice builds up on them.
- Pool or hot tub accidents – Unsecured swimming pools or hot tubs could lead to slips and falls or accidental drownings.
- Fires – Be very careful about lighting a fire in the fireplace, especially if small children are around. Make sure that your chimney is clean and in good working order before starting any fires.
- Dog bites – Even the most well-behaved dog could attack if your home is full of unfamiliar visitors. Secure your pooch away when having people over.
Protecting Your Home or Business From a Premises Liability Lawsuit
Taking proactive steps to prevent accidents on your property can help you avoid premises liability lawsuits. Some ways to do this include:
- Promptly shovel and de-ice all exterior walkways
- Regularly check for any spills and clean them up right away. Business owners should train their staff to be proactive in cleaning up spills.
- Inspect all holiday lighting for frayed wires
- Don’t overload outlets or circuits
- Consider booking your pet into “doggy daycare” during house parties
- Fence any pool areas with a locked gate and secure the pool cover
- Check all locks and windows on your property
- Install sufficient exterior lighting
Have You Been Hurt on Someone Else’s Property? We Can Help
Have you been hurt because of unsafe conditions in someone else’s home or business? You may have grounds to file a premises liability lawsuit against the negligent party, demanding they compensate you for your medical bills and other losses. A skilled premises liability lawyer from our team can help build a case of negligence against the at-fault party. We’re on your side and ready to fight to get you the maximum compensation for your case. Call (317) 634-8565 for a free consultation.