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Are businesses responsible if I fall on their property?

On Behalf of | Nov 10, 2023 | Personal Injury

We have all fallen at some point or another. Sometimes, it is funny, and there are no injuries. Other times, it is a serious fall. But, if you have ever slipped and fallen on a wet floor, tripped over a loose carpet or stumbled on a broken stair at a business, you will want to know if you can hold the Virginia business accountable. Unfortunately, the answer is not always straightforward in a premises liability claim.

What is a premises liability claim?

Premises liability is how injured customers hold business owners and landowners liable for injuries caused by dangerous or defective conditions on their property. It applies to not only businesses, but also any property and to any property owner. And, it covers a host of injuries from slip and falls to elevator accidents, dog bits, swimming pools, etc. But, not every injury will bring a business owner liability as you must show that the owner was negligent in some way, like in maintaining the property, repairing the property or not warning you of some hidden danger.

What about trespassers?

Under Virginia law, your right to sue the business owner depends on your legal status at the time of the injury. Trespassers are someone who enters the property without any right or ownership permission. Generally, owners only have the duty of not intentionally or wantonly injuring a trespasser, which means, unless the trespasser can prove this, they cannot recover for injuries caused by a business owner’s property.

What about regular customers?

As a customer, you are classified as an invitee, which has the highest level of protection under Virginia law. This is because the business owner invited you onto their property to do business with them. Invitees also include clients, contractors, delivery persons, etc. As an invitee, the business owner owes you a duty of ordinary care, which means they must maintain the property in a reasonable and safe condition. Business owners must also warn their customers of any hidden dangers that they know or should have known about.

Are businesses responsible if you fall on their property?

As long as you are not a trespasser, the answer is likely yes because you are an invitee. Though, you still need to prove that the business owner breached their duty to maintain or repair the property or by failing to warn you of a hidden danger. Next, you must prove that this failure caused your injury and suffered damages as a result.