You’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you are thinking of pursuing a case against them. You may be looking for legal counsel. You want to understand if the individual can be held accountable, and you’ve arrived on our website to do just that. For most of us, legal terms and definitions are conceptually from another realm. That is why we offer a glossary with some terms that you need to know, beginning with premises liability.

Slip and Fall Example
Spills can cause severe injuries in a slip and fall accident.

Short Definition: This is a legal concept that says a property owner is responsible for keeping his or her property hazard free so that visitors are safe when they enter the premises. If that is not done and a visitor is injured as a consequence, the victim has the right to file a lawsuit against the property owner.


Under California law, there are four things that must be proven to establish a premises liability case:

  1. The defendant (the property owner in this case) must be the lessee, owner, occupier or controller of the property.
  2. The defendant must have been negligent in some way.
  3. The plaintiff (the person who is bringing the case against the defendant) must be injured.
  4. The defendant’s actions must have caused the plaintiff’s injury.

Types of Premises Liability Cases:

  • Slip and fall
  • Trip and fall
  • Poor security on property
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Elevator and escalator accidents
  • Dog bites
  • Chemical accidents
  • Inadequate lighting
  • Pavement maintenance

Duty of Care:

A property owner or controller has a duty of care to individuals who enter his or her property to maintain safe conditions. The individuals to whom this duty is owed fall into four groups:

  1. The Invitee: The invitee is usually on the premises for a business purpose, for example, a shopper at a retail establishment. This can include someone injured in a parking lot or a person who slips on ice outside the establishment. Basically, if you enter a retail business, you have the right to assume that the premises are safe. The property owner must routinely inspect the premises to make sure a dangerous condition does not exist. It is their duty to repair the problem. There are some exclusions here. The condition must be something the owner should have seen or known about. Time can be a distinguishing factor. For example, a broom that was dropped by another customer across a store aisle could provoke a trip and fall accident. However, the store owner or operator must have a reasonable amount of time to discover and remedy the problem. In another case, if a spill is noticed, the owner must erect signs warning customers until the spill is cleaned up.
  2. The Licensee: This is someone invited onto the property but not for a business purpose. An example would be someone who comes to your home to visit. The requirements are somewhat less than those for a business establishment. While homeowners are required to warn guests that a possible hazard exists, they are not required to inspect the premises or remedy the problem immediately.
  3. The Trespasser: This is someone who enters the property without being invited. The property owner has no duty to the trespasser, however, he or she cannot put traps on the property to catch trespassers. In the case of children, the rules are somewhat different. The owner must make sure potentially attractive hazards such as swimming pools are inaccessible.

Premises liability revolves around keeping your property safe for guests or business visitors. If you fail to do that, the injured party can file a legal claim against you. There are many things to know about a slip and fall or trip and fall injuries. For more information, visit David’s pages on such accidents.