Regardless of whether real estate is residential or commercial, when somebody gets injured in an accident that occurs on property that is owned or occupied by somebody else, the law of premises liability applies. The law of negligence controls this area of personal injury law. The general rule of premises liability law is that every owner or occupier of real estate must maintain that real estate in a reasonably safe condition to prevent injury to others who visit their property.  If a dangerous situation existed on a property, and its owner or occupier knew or should have known about it and failed to repair it or otherwise warn others of it, that owner or occupier can be held liable for any injuries and damages that were caused by the condition.  Here are some examples of common premises liability claims.


Given the fact that humans have only two legs rather than four, they’re far more likely than other creatures to slip or trip on walking surfaces and then fall. Slip-and-falls and trip-and-falls can happen either inside or outside of the premises. Most victims of slip-and-fall accidents fall backward and injure their head, neck, back, shoulders, elbows or hands. Although a person might be taking regular or even short steps, a foot can slip, and a fall with resulting injuries can occur. Common slip-and-fall hazards include snow, ice, water or oily substances.


Accidents involving trip-and-falls are the opposite of slip-and-falls. When a person trips and then falls, he or she usually falls forward. Typical injuries are to the head, neck, back, nose, teeth, chin, shoulders, elbows and hands. Trip-and-falls might be the result of holes in parking lots and sidewalks, uneven walking surfaces, poorly placed merchandise obstructing store aisles, improperly built or improperly maintained stairs, the lack of handrails, holes in carpeting or crumpled up carpeting.

Falling Objects

If you walk into a Walmart, Home Depot or any warehouse shopping store, take a look up. It’s likely that you’ll see merchandise on pallets stacked up 10 to 12 feet or even higher.  Stuff that’s stacked too high or unevenly can shift and then fall. There’s a legal duty incumbent upon stores to protect their customers from falling merchandise, but store personnel often have little or no training in improper stacking or the potential hazards attendant to it. Even a can of paint weighing five pounds that falls a mere 2 feet creates a force an impact of nearly 320 pounds.

Criminal Acts

Physical attacks and sexual assaults occur every day. They might happen in apartment buildings, nursing homes, parking garages, hotels or casinos. The general premises liability rule in the context of criminal acts is that the owner or occupier of the property isn’t a guarantor of a person’s safety. What can come to issue is whether there was a history or pattern of prior attacks or criminal acts on or near the premises in the past. If the owner or occupier of the premises had notice of such prior criminal activity, liability could attach. It might even attach if the condition of the property was in such a state of disrepair that there was a significantly increased likelihood of criminal activity, like when a door or window lock is broken.

Elevator and Escalator Accidents

We use elevators and escalators in malls, office and residential buildings, hospitals, hotels and transportation centers. There are times when an elevator or escalator defect or malfunction causes an accident and injures riders. Accidents might result from clothing or limbs getting caught in moving parts, malfunctioning elevator doors that open or close at the wrong time, uneven stops or electrical or mechanical malfunctions.  They’ve even been known to collapse or catch fire. Proper inspections and regular maintenance can prevent elevator and escalator accidents.

Insurance companies are spending millions of dollars in defending premises liability cases. If you try to represent yourself in such a case, the opposing insurer will have you right where it wants you. A qualified and experienced personal injury lawyer will provide you with a free consultation and case review on any premises liability case. If your injuries turn on premises liability issues, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice by not meeting with one.