Premises liability describes legal claims that can result from a dangerous condition on another person or business’s property. The most common claims are slips and falls; however, many aspects can fall under this element of the law.
In order to prove a premises liability claim, you’ll need to prove these three elements:
- A dangerous condition was present on someone else’s property – dangerous conditions can come in many forms and can include weather-related elements (snow, ice, water, etc.), improper design or construction of a building, substances on store floors, harmful chemicals, or other substances, to name a few. It’s important to note that just because a dangerous condition exists doesn’t mean there’s automatically a claim. The dangerous condition must exist because the property owner (or the person in control of the property) was negligent.
- Negligence occurred – negligence occurs when an owner created the condition, failed to remove a harmful situation/material, did not warn people about the issue, or neglected to inspect the scene to discover it.
- Negligence caused injury or property damage – to move a premises liability case forward that meets the first two criteria, you must also prove the owner’s negligence caused the injury or damage. When the owner had a legal duty to make the property safe, and they failed to act as a reasonably careful person would, then negligence can occur. Simply stated, when the owner’ breaches’ the duty of care, there can be a negligence case. It’s important to note that it’s only half the battle to prove the property owner was negligent – you also must prove that you were not negligent.
Different States, Different Laws
Laws around premises liability vary from state to state and are applied to different categories of people in various ways. For example, a visitor slipping on your icy steps could have more protection than a trespasser who does the same.
It can be a complicated subject, but our experienced attorneys at Terrazas Henkel, P.C. can guide you through the ins and outs of Montana’s premises liability laws and insurance coverage expectations, giving you some control in otherwise unexpected circumstances. Call to schedule an appointment at 406-541-2550.