What determines premises liability on commercial property?

Commercial properties like stores, restaurants and other businesses should be safe for visitors and workers. If hazards exist, the property owner should take steps to warn pedestrians from venturing into the dangerous areas. In the event an owner fails to put proper safety standards in place, someone could suffer a serious injury from a fall.

If you do trip and fall while in a store or restaurant, a court may determine the owner was responsible for your injuries. As FindLaw explains, there are a number of ways a judge or jury may find a commercial property owner liable for a slip and fall accident.

Property employees are directly responsible

Sometimes the direct fault for a fall lies with the owner or an employee on the property. A thoughtless or careless worker might spill a liquid on the floor. Sometimes workers wear away at a carpet through repetitive tasks or drop items or debris that causes a trip and fall.

Even if an employee acts carelessly by causing a hazard, other employees might notice the hazard and rectify it. This is not always the case. Still, a court might determine the property management is liable if their employees must have known about a hazard and yet did nothing about it.

Reasonable knowledge of a hazard

Courts may also hold a property owner liable under the reasonable person standard. In other words, if you were to trip and fall in a highly trafficked area in a store, a court may conclude that a reasonable person working for the store would have discovered the hazard that caused you to fall and should have dealt with it.

This kind of situation tends to be more common than when an employee is directly responsible for causing the hazard. However, it can be harder to prove. Nonetheless, if common sense dictates that store employees should have noticed and fixed a hazard, you might still hold the owner or management liable for your injury.