Premises liability is the legal concept that the owner of a property has a certain amount of responsibility to ensure the health and safety of the people on his or her property. For instance, the property owner must ensure that sidewalks are not slippery, otherwise visitors could fall. Property owners must also take care to ensure proper maintenance on escalators, railings and stairways. Failure to take these steps could result in a debilitating injury for a visitor to the dangerous premises.
Take, for example, the California woman who recently filed a lawsuit against the City of San Diego after she suffered an injury in one of the municipal parks. The woman was walking on a bike path with her boyfriend when a 10-foot-long eucalyptus branch fell from a tree overhead, striking her on the head.
The branch fractured the woman's spine, broke five bones in her face and fractured her leg. She is currently confined to a wheelchair and requires surgery on her leg. She says she hopes she will someday be able to walk again.
According to a lawsuit the woman filed against the city, the accident would never have happened of San Diego's administrators had taken due care to ensure the park was safe. In particular, the lawsuit notes that budget cuts had slashed the number of tree inspections and maintenance calls in the park, a dangerous situation that would inevitably lead to injury.
Premises liability cases filed against a city or state follow slightly different rules than premises liability cases filed against a private party, but the principles remain the same. Visitors to a property have a right to expect that the property obeys current building codes and safety rules; a building owner's failure to uphold this responsibility can lead to permanent injury, or even death.
Source: U-T San Diego, "Legal Claim Filed Over Injury From Falling Tree" Greg Moran, Oct. 04, 2013