With so many grocery stores, shopping malls, and restaurants around us, we tend to be on someone else’s property on an everyday basis, which is why the importance of understanding Arizona’s premises liability law is crucial. Unfortunately, many people who pay for goods and service at the above-mentioned properties do not know that by being on a business owner’s property, you are covered by premises liability laws.
Meaning: in the event of an accident – a slip and fall or any other – if you get injured, the business owner or occupier will be responsible for your injuries and will be ordered to pay compensation as long as he or she owed you a duty of care and that duty was breached by negligence of the owner or his/her employees.
Were you a licensee, invitee, or trespasser?
“However, prior to filing a personal injury claim against the property owner or occupier, you need to establish your legal status for being on that property,” says our Phoenix premises liability attorney from Lorona Mead.
Unless you were trespassing (illegally on the property), your legal status can be one of the following: an invitee or licensee, statuses given to individuals who are legally on the property. An invitee is someone whose stay at the property can potentially bring financial benefit for the business owner (for example, a shopper at a shopping mall, a guest at a hotel, etc.). A licensee, on the other hand, is someone who entered the premises with the permission of the owner (typically, the owner does not expect financial gain from the licensee; for example, a guest at a party or a delivery person at a store, etc.).
Notice of a dangerous condition
Once you have established your legal status, and it is clear that the property owner or occupier owed you a duty of care, the next step is to establish whether or not the property owner or occupier had notice of the dangerous or hazardous condition that led to your injuries.
Under Arizona’s premises liability law, a business owner or occupier has a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to warn of or fix (remedy) a dangerous condition of which he or she had notice. More often than not, establishing whether or not the business owner had notice of a dangerous condition requires a thorough investigation by an experienced premises liability attorney in Phoenix or elsewhere in Arizona.
In the course of that investigation, your attorney may find that any of the following took place:
- The defendant (property owner or occupier, and/or their employees) created the dangerous condition by a negligent act, wrongful act, intentional act, recklessness, or omission to act;
- The defendant was aware of the condition and had a reasonable amount of time to remedy it or warn of it; or
- The condition had existed for so long that the defendant should have known about it.
Once the investigation establishes that the defendant had notice of the dangerous condition and did nothing to prevent harm to invitees and licensees on his/her property, you will be entitled to receive compensation for your injuries, damages, and losses.
Was the dangerous condition open and obvious?
One of the most popular defenses mounted by property owners and their lawyers is arguing that the dangerous condition was “open and obvious.” Meaning: both licensees and invitees should have seen such a dangerous condition and it was their legal duty to avoid it. In other words, a property owner is not legally required to safeguard or warn of a condition that falls into the category of “open and obvious.”
In the vast majority of cases when the plaintiffs are represented by a Phoenix premises liability attorney, fighting the “open and obvious” defense presents no difficulty. Unrepresented plaintiffs, on the other hand, risk losing their right to recover damages if the defendant successfully proves that the condition was “open and obvious.”
Do not hesitate to contact Lorona Mead, one of the top law firms in Arizona that represent victims of slip and fall and other premises liability accidents in Phoenix and all across the state. Schedule a free consultation by calling at 602-385-6825 or fill out this contact form.