What does a premises case mean?

A premises case is a claim or a lawsuit that involves an accident that happens on someone’s property.  For example, when I broke my leg in four places in 2008 in my kitchen, it was a premises case; however, I could not sue myself.  It was also my fault.  Recently, a young boy was decapitated at an amusement park while riding a water ride.  The designer of that ride was held criminally and civilly liable and the park paid a seven-figure settlement, believed to be $10,000,000.  That is a premises case as well.

A typical premises case involves a customer who goes into a store and is injured while on another’s property.  For instance, Mrs. Smith goes to do her shopping at XYZ Grocery Store and, while there, she steps on a wet mat.  The mat has a rubber backing and because the floor is wet, when she steps off the mat, she goes flying.  In this case, the customer sustained a rotator cuff tear and she needed surgery and rehabilitation.  Ask yourself this question:  Should the store be liable or should the customer shoulder the surgical expenses and rehabilitation her injury caused?

The first question to consider in a premises case is: Did the store owner know?  If the answer is yes, then ask whether they had time to clean it up.  In the case of the unfortunate shopper, we learned that the store received their vegetables packed in ice and set the boxes in front of the shelves on top of the mat.  The ice melted and seeped through the box and the water collected under the mat.  On that case, we collected a large settlement from the store.

It is also important to remember that customers are advised to keep a lookout for slip hazards.  If a child spills a drink and, five minutes later, a customer falls there, it is more likely than not that there would be a small chance of recovering any settlement amount.  Customers cannot disregard obvious dangers and hold the store owner liable for their injuries in that instance. 

As customers, always remember:  Keep a proper lookout!

If you are injured at a store or business premises:

  • file a report;
  • get the names of witnesses;
  • use your cell phone to take pictures; and
  • request, in writing, that the videotape be saved. 

Many stores have elaborate video surveillance systems to prevent theft as well as to record accidents.  In many cases, the accident is caught on tape. 

If you have questions, we’ll be happy to discuss it with you free of charge.  Making sure premises are safe is good for business…and good for customers!


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