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Haugen Moeckel & Bossart

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What is Premises Liability?

Premises Liability is an area of the law which holds that a property owner may be liable for injuries or damages which result from an accident to a person or an entity’s property. Premises Liability is sometimes referred to as “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” even though it covers many situations.

What kind of situations can Premises liability cover?

Common situations which may give rise to Premises Liability causes of action could be situations involving animal and dog bites, slip/trip and fall accidents, dangerous conditions on property, negligent or inadequate security, swimming pool accidents, inadequate maintenance, children injured on property, retail store liability, and restaurant liability.

What is the difference between Invitee, Licensee and Trespasser as it relates to Premises Liability?

You are an invitee if you are invited onto a property for a commercial purpose, such as a customer at a mall. You are licensee if you enter the property by permission of the property owner or occupant. For both invitees and licensees, the invitation is an implied promise that it is safe to be on the property. You are a trespasser if you enter the land or premises of another without permission for your own purposes. Under North Dakota law, the property owner has a duty to provide a safe environment to those individuals invited, either expressly or by implication, onto the property and should an injury occur while on the property because of unsafe conditions, the property owner or person in control of the property will be liable for damages sustained as a result. A trespasser has no expectation of this protection under North Dakota law with a couple of exceptions, such as the trespass of a child due to an attractive nuisance.

How is liability determined in a Premises Liability case?

An experienced attorney can determine a Premises Liability case by a review of several criteria; namely, the legal status of the visitor; condition of the property and the actions of both the owner and the visitor; if the person injured is a trespasser or a child; and whether both the owner and the visitor are at fault for the injury.

Who is liable if a tenant’s guest is injured on apartment property?

Usually, landlords are not responsible for the injuries of a tenant's guest because the tenant is presumed to be in control of the condition of the property. There are exceptions, however, such as for latent defects in the property, which are concealed or whether dangerous conditions already existed when the tenant took possession of the property.

How is my monetary recovery calculated?

North Dakota operates under a “modified comparative fault rule. This means that even if you are successful at trial for your injury claim, if the Court or jury finds that you played a part in your injury wherein you were equally at fault or more at fault for the injury sustained, you will not recover any damages. If you are found to be less than 50% liable for the injury you sustained, you can recover that percentage for your injury. That is, if you were 25% at fault for the injury, then you will only recover 75% of any damages awarded by the Court or jury. In the alternative, if you are found to be 51% or more at fault for your injuries, you will receive no monetary award. Thus, it is very important to work closely with an attorney to evaluate your claim in order to maximize your monetary award.



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