Under premises liability, the owner of a building, such as a store, restaurant or hotel, has a certain amount of responsibility to maintain the safety of the building’s guests. The building must be well-maintained and staffed with a reasonable amount of security, and any potential hazards must be removed quickly. Premises liability is a fairly broad area of the law, as it can come into play in a wide variety of situations.
Common examples of premises liability cases include:
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Staircase accidents
- Accidents arising from improper maintenance
- Failure to hire sufficient security
There is a common misconception among many people that premises liability cases, in particular slip-and-fall cases, provide millions of dollars in compensation to unqualified victims. The fact is, however, that premises liability cases provide an amount of money appropriate to the situation; enough to compensate the victim for his or her medical bills, lost wages and loss of enjoyment of life. If a case does result in a very large verdict, it is generally because the victim has suffered an extremely serious injury that will require lifelong care such as a head injury or a spinal cord fracture.
In general, premises owners are liable if they allowed a hazardous situation to arise on their property. Spilled oil, for example, could be a slipping hazard to visitors if it is not promptly cleaned up. However, the state of Ohio has a law that makes it much more difficult for victims to successfully pursue their premises liability cases.
It’s known as the “open and obvious doctrine.” The doctrine states that if a person of reasonable intelligence could be expected to notice and recognize the premises hazard, then the premises owner is not liable for any injuries that the hazard causes. Victims, therefore, must not only prove that the spilled oil was negligently present, but also that it was not an obvious hazard.
This can be difficult, as the nuances of the law are somewhat subjective. Victims who wish to pursue a premises liability claim should consider speaking to a lawyer.