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Who has the responsibility to maintain a property?

Who is responsible if you get hurt while walking through a grocery store? What happens if you're injured while you're walking on a sidewalk at school? Who has to pay for your medical bills if you hit your head while you're at a local park?

Premises liability laws are in place to help you answer those questions clearly. Generally speaking, if a person is allowed or invited onto a property, the owner of that property is responsible for the guest's well being. Here's a good example. If a postal worker is delivering a package to your door and slips on ice, hitting his head and requiring stitches, you may be held accountable. Why? You should have known the area was dangerous and made it safer by identifying the ice or treating it to prevent someone from getting hurt.

The same kind of situation could end up backfiring if the postal worker was drinking or on drugs when he fell. Because he would then be negligent and acting in an unsafe manner, his injury would be more likely to be attributed to his own error in judgment.

As an individual, if you are hurt on a business's premises, you'll typically be able to seek compensation from the business. The case is more likely to be in your favor if you can prove that the business was negligent. For instance, if there was an unmarked puddle that you slipped on or a pothole that you twisted your ankle in while walking through a parking lot, then you could claim that the business was not maintaining its property up to a high enough standard.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?," accessed July 10, 2015

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