What is Premises Liability?
Premises liability refers to the fact that property owners and non-owner residents are responsible for making sure that their property is relatively safe to visitors. A property owner can be held liable for injuries that occurred on their property if they were not the solely the fault of the victims themselves. This rule applies to any type of property owner including private homes, stores and even government owned property. If a person gets injured on a property due to no fault of their own, they may be able to hold the property owner responsible for their medical bills, pain and suffering or for the wrongful death of a loved one.
New Hampshire Premises Liability Law
In order for an accident to be liable for a personal injury claim, certain factors must be present. Property owners must exercise a standard of care to make sure that their property is relatively safe. If there are any obvious hazards for dangerous conditions, the property owner should make a good faith effort to either fix the problem or properly warn visitors of the hazard. If they fail to do this and an injury occurs, they can be held liable for the damages. For example, if a grocery store shopper slips in a puddle and breaks their leg, this could leave the store open to a lawsuit because cleaning the puddle would have been easy and its presence was an obvious hazard.
Premises liability also requires the property owner to be at fault for the damages. It does not, however, require the victim to be completely without fault in the accident. New Hampshire law Title LII, section 507:7-d states that if “such fault was not greater than the fault of the defendant…damages awarded shall be diminished in the proportion of the amount attribute by the plaintiff.” This means that if a court ruled that accident was 20% the victims fault, they can still ask for 80% of the total damages from the property owner. This concept is called comparative fault.
Property owners have a duty to keep their property reasonably safe to all visitors regardless of their reason for being on the property. There are generally 4 kinds of visitors:
- Those who are invited on the property as guests – the main example are social guests invited into a home
- Those who are invited on the property to do business or use the public space – this includes customers at a store, patrons of a park, etc.
- Those who are trespassing on the property – any type of invited guest including criminals
- Licensees who are on the property with the owner's consent – can include guests as well as postal workers and repair men
Types of Premises Liability in New Hampshire
Any type of property can be subject to premises liability law. In fact, a property owner, a property leaser, a non-owner resident or whomever is charged with maintaining the property can be subject to a personal injury suit if someone is seriously injured on their property. Some of the most common properties in which accidents happen include:
- Apartment complexes
- Sidewalks and public areas
- Residential houses
- Parks and playgrounds
- Construction sites
An injury can occur in almost any way. If it can be proven that the victim was hurt due to a hazard on the property that could have been easily fixed or that property owner could have warned visitors about, a premises liability suit may result. Property injuries include:
- Slips and falls
- Trip and falls
- Swimming or pool accidents
- Animal bites
- Deck or porch collapses
- Fire or smoke injuries
- Head trauma
- Cuts and gashes
Property owners who suspect that visitors or children may pass through their property must take extra care to make sure that the area is safe. For example, a family that throws a backyard barbecues should make sure that their deck can handle the weight of added guests. Stores with a high volume of customers should work to keep the aisles free of debris and standing water. Construction sites should take extra care to make sure anyone passing by or through the premises will be properly warned of the hazards. Failure to do any of these things could show hold the owners responsible for any injuries that occur.
New Hampshire Premises Liability Lawyer
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured because of a neglected property, it is important to speak to an attorney right away. The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in New Hampshire is only three years. Russman law can help you through the entire legal process. Call us now to find out more information.