Defective premises cause a significant number of falls resulting in severe and disabling injuries. Some of the leading causes of these accidents are slippery floors, uneven surfaces and trip hazards.
Generally, the law starts with the proposition that when you engage in certain kinds of activity, you have a duty to use reasonable care to keep from hurting others. If a business owner or operator violates that duty, then they may be held legally responsible for the resulting damages. Premises liability laws differ from state to state.
Just because an accident occurs does not necessarily mean the business owner is liable. For a business owner to be held liable, the user has to be injured by a dangerous or defective condition, such as: (i) improper lighting, (ii) lack of railings on stairs, (iii) worn carpets (iv) visually confusing or disorienting carpet patterns, (v) area rugs or mats that are not flat, (vi) out of code door thresholds, (vii) improperly designed grates, (vii) manhole covers that have been left open; or (viii) sidewalk holes or hazards. The custodian/owner of the premises may potentially be held responsible.
With regard to public buildings, there are building codes that set standards for all kinds of things from step height and width to lighting levels to door height clearances. Violations of these standards may be evidence of negligence and subject the landowner to civil liability. The Life Safety Code is one such code setting standards for buildings.
In order to determine whether a property is in violation of these codes and standards, professional engineers may be used to inspect the premises. While building code violations may be used as a sign of negligence, meeting the code does not guarantee protection for the landowner or custodian of the dangerous property.
These cases may be difficult to evaluate unless you have an experienced lawyer familiar with the liability laws in your particular state.
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