People slip, fall and are injured every day, and often it’s nobody’s fault. Sometimes it’s the fault of the injured person, who wasn’t watching where they were going. Sometimes, it’s the fault of a property owner who didn’t repair a safety hazard.
These are just some of the issues underlying Ohio’s premises liability law, which holds that property owners or possessors have a duty to repair safety hazards so as to avoid a visitor being injured in a foreseeable accident. In fact, there are many more issues in this complicated area of the law, and each individual case brings its own unique set of facts.
Grocery store falls
A typical example of a premises liability case involves a customer at a grocery store who slips and falls on spilled milk. The customer is badly injured and files suit against the store, seeking compensation for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.
In this case, one of the main questions before the court will be: Did the store owner have a duty to clean up spill before a customer was hurt? Typically, the court will answer that question in the affirmative. A reasonable store owner would know that a spill of milk on a slick grocery store floor can easily lead to a customer slipping and falling.
In individual cases, the question will become more complicated. For instance, did the store owner know about the spill before the accident, or did they have reason to know? The longer the spill was on the floor, the more likely the court is to say that the owner should have known about the hazard, and was negligent in not cleaning it up before someone was hurt. Alternatively, if the spill happened mere seconds before the customer slipped, a court might find a reasonable owner would not have been able to repair the hazard in time to stop the accident.
Premises liability is a complicated subject. Those who have been hurt in an accident while on another’s property can speak to a knowledgeable personal injury attorney about the circumstances of their injury to learn more about their legal options for recovering compensation.