An accident that takes place on somebody’s property due to dangers or defects that abound ether outdoors or inside of a property is known as a “premise liability” accident. This can happen on just about any type of property, but here are three most common:

  • Residential properties: private or rental homes
  • Commercial buildings: shops, offices, restaurants etc.
  • Public property: parks, streets, public transit etc.

A property or “premise” is deemed dangerous for any number of reasons. This could include faulty design, low quality building materials, poor maintenance, or excess clutter that presents a safety hazard. These kinds of hazardous conditions could lead to an accident like something falling on you or causing you to slip or fall. So what happens if you’re involved in one of these accidents yourself?

There are two main rules to consider when determining who is liable for one of these premises accidents.

Rule Number 1: The Owner Must Keep the Property Safe

It is the owner or occupant who bears the legal responsibility for anyone that enters the property when it comes to safety. Such parties are responsible for insuring that those who enter (tenants, shoppers, visitors, etc.) are not subject to unreasonable risks related to the design, building standards or condition of the property. Why? Because they are the ones who remain in control of the safety standards and condition of the property while visitors, tenants, shoppers, and all other temporary occupants are not. For example someone were to step on a loose nail sticking out in the entrance to an apartment building, the owner of the building would be responsible because they never fixed it.

Rule Two: Visitors Should Use In A Normal Manner

The flip side to this rule adds a stipulation for the visitor that takes their conduct into consideration. If someone is using property in an unusual, careless, or unauthorized manner the owner may no longer be liable. For example, if someone is riding a shopping cart like a scooter sponsored by NASCAR, the store owner may no longer liable if they get hurt.

What About Injured Employees?

This law also applies to employees who are injured on the job or on their employer’s property. If a worker is injured while on the job, generally a workers’ compensation claim is the exclusive remedy. However, there are certain exceptions. For example, let’s say that there is a construction worker who is on clock and working on a ladder. Then, the rung of the ladder snaps, causing the construction worker to fall down several feet and break his leg. In this situation, the injured worker could potentially have both a workers’ compensation claim, as well as a products liability claim.

Who is Responsible: The Owner or the Occupier?

In some cases an occupier may be different from the actual owner of a property, which is where some get thrown for a loop determining liability. Take for example a retail store that may be renting their building through a commercial lease. In this case the store owner is the occupier while the one they’re leasing from is the owner. The same could be said for a residential rental property where a tenant may be occupying a home leased by their landlord.

The rules governing liability in this case tend to vary from different property types, and even then it’s a bit of a can of worms. The first thing you must remember is that when filing your personal injury claim is to file a notice of claim against both. Ultimately it may fall to their insurance companies to decide which is at fault or in some cases if both are. Here are some other basic rules to remember, though.

For Commercial Properties

If the property is a business, say a store or a restaurant, or perhaps an open office, the decision of liability will be partially based on what may be outlined in the lease agreement or another form of business contract that outlines similar terms. This also in large part is determined by where the accident took place. Always notify the business about your accident and injuries you may have sustained from it. Most likely their insurance company will either handle the claim directly or ,simply forward it to the owner’s insurance, depending.

Private Residences

The rules for residential accidents are a bit simply, but do vary by the property type.


If you’re a guest or tenant that suffers an injury on the premises the liability is usual on whoever is responsible for the condition that caused your accident as well as the one who is responsible for maintaining that area. So the landlord bears responsibility for anything outside of the apartment itself (stairs, entryways etc.) as well for anything’s that immobile (built-in appliances, light fixtures, windows etc) while  anything that can be moved is generally the burden of the tenant.

In some cases if a tenant knows about something in the apartment that is unmovable and presents a hazardous conditions but does nothing and fails to report it, liability will often be shared by both tenant and landlord

Private home.

In all accidents and injuries taking place in a private home and caused by dangerous conditions the owner is almost always legally responsible. In the case of a full home that is rented the tenant, in many cases, also bears partial responsibility.

Accidents on Adjoining Properties

In this case of accidents near a property’s end, say at the property line or near a public sidewalk, it’s not always immediately clear who’s responsible. In these cases always file an initial claim against both parties and generally the two of them will hash out to see who’s to blame.