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Slip and Fall: What is the Duty of Care and Foreseeable Danger?


Businesses and individuals owe duties of reasonable care to warn others about hazards on their property and to correct dangers that they either know about or reasonably should have known about to prevent injuries from happening. The duty that a property owner owes differs based on the status of the particular visitor. Both the visitors and the dangers must be reasonably foreseeable, which means that undiscovered trespassers will be unlikely to recover damages if they are injured while on the property of others.

Foreseeable risks are those that could result from the presence of hazardous conditions and that are not far-fetched. Examples could include broken asphalt in parking lots, spills that are left on the floor and others. When people are injured while on the premises of others, a slip and fall attorney will analyze the facts to determine if the property owner breached the duty of care.

Status of Visitors: Duty of Care

In addition to trespassers, the other types of visitors to whom property owners owe duties of care include licensees and invitees. Licensees are people who have a business-related reason to be on the property and may include meter readers, postal workers and others. Invitees are people who are the guests of the property owner or who are customers of the business. The duty of care that a property owner owes to both licensees and invitees is to fix dangerous conditions that exist on the property that the owner either knew about or that he or she should have known about. The property owner also has a duty to warn about existing hazards until he or she has time to fix them.

Foreseeable Danger

Not all dangers that are located on business premises or other properties are foreseeable. If a dangerous condition exists that the property owner did not know about or could not reasonably have known about results in an injury to a visitor, the property owner will not be liable. An example of a danger that may not be foreseeable might include a spill that happens in a grocery store by a customer in which another customer then immediately slips in, falling down and suffering injury. In that scenario, the business must have the chance to discover the spill, and the analysis completed by a slip and fall attorney will include whether or not the owner had time to discover it. If a danger was foreseeable, the owner may be liable.

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