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Liability and the Law

Written By Editor on 3/26/17 | 3/26/17

By Michael Ehline

Premises liability is one of those unspoken parts of owning a home or operating a business. We don't always think of someone falling down or slipping on the floor but the risk is always present. In fact, in many cases liability is a slippery slope-- and it's not always clear whose responsibility or fault it is for an accident.

In some cases the risk splits between the property owner or manager and the injured. Courts must determine whether the injured party understood the risk to themselves and went beyond the ordinary scope of services for the establishment. In some cases, this may involve going through doors that say "Utility Room" or into an active construction zone.

For the owner or operator, there is a responsibility for reasonable access and use. This often includes the ability for customers or visitors to transit safely. If the owner knows there is a hazard and does nothing about it, they are usually liable. In some cases, this can be proven through a notice of claim or other evidence that the owner understood the risks and disregarded them. Furthermore, the owner may have allowed the danger to grow through a lack of action. This is often found with cases of neglect or lack of maintenance.

Additionally, precautions reduce the chance of injury. Even a notice or sign letting patrons know not to go beyond a certain point helps. Wet floor signs and cordoning off areas keep otherwise unwitting visitors where they need to be. There are many cases where fault is shared, but the owner has an obligation to keep the area as safe and accessible as possible. This is often considered the bare minimum standard.

Michael Ehline is an auto and personal injury expert. He is head of the Ehline Law Firm APLC. Reach him at

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