Who is Liable in this Premises Liability Accident?
I had a premises liability accident at a local restaurant. There was a sign hanging outside the door between two brick columns. The sign was supported by small ropes, one rope on each corner. The bottom ropes were tied off much lower than the bottom of the sign.
Upon exiting the building, I walked into the rope which was at neck level. The rope caught my neck and flipped me, causing me to land on my face. I was in and out of consciousness until I arrived by ambulance at the emergency room. I had severe trauma to my face, broken teeth, and spinal injuries.
My question would be: since the incident occurred at a business in a strip mall, and the property is owned by a separate party than the restaurant, can the property owner be liable for damages also, since they didn't make sure the building being leased to the business was operated safely on their property?
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ANSWER for "Who is Liable in this Premises Liability Accident?":
The property owner may liable for damages. He did have a duty to keep his property safe, especially because he knew his tenants were retail establishments selling goods and services to the general public. The owner’s duty is higher when public safety is at stake.
Knowing a little more about the relationship between the property owner and his restaurant tenant would be helpful. For example, let's say the property owner had already warned his restaurant tenant about the specific danger those ropes posed to the public. Each time he did, the restaurant owner ignored him. As a result, and shortly before you were injured, the property owner commenced eviction proceedings against him. That might have some effect on the degree of liability the property owner owes.
Usually that is not the case though. You are correct when you suggest the property owner was responsible for the safe operation and maintenance of his property. Large property owners normally carry “Premises Liability” insurance. It is insurance created to cover incidents exactly like yours.
Tenant businesses, like the restaurant, also normally carry Premises Liability Insurance. Carrying such insurance is almost always one of the lease terms between commercial property owners and their business tenants. You seem to have a strong cause of action against the property owner and the restaurant owner.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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