What Does “Reasonable” Mean In A Premises Liability Case?

Premises liability is a complicated area of the law. After suffering a serious injury on a residential or commercial property, the injured party may hold the property owner accountable for the accident. Results of such cases can vary widely, depending on what the safety hazard on the owner’s property was, whether the owner knew about the hazard, whether they took reasonable steps to prevent an accident and more.

But, what does “reasonable” mean in this context?

Property owners must exercise reasonable care

Property owners in California, whether owners of residential or commercial property, must take steps to keep visitors on their premises safe. More specifically, property owners have a duty of care to keep their premises safe and prevent a foreseeable accident.

Now, this does not mean that property owners must prevent any and all accidents from happening on their property. However, it does mean that owners must take reasonable actions to inspect the premises, identify possible safety hazards and address them promptly.

Such actions could consist of:

  • A grocery store owner or employee displaying a “wet floor” sign after a spill or mopped floor
  • A small business owner removing excessive snow or ice from pathways leading to their door
  • A homeowner abiding by California law requirements to secure the area around their pool
  • A hotel owner installing adequate lighting and security cameras on outdoor premises

Essentially, property owners must take the steps necessary to address dangerous conditions or warn visitors of the potential hazards.

Visitors also must act reasonably

Property owners are not the only ones who must exercise a reasonable duty of care. Visitors to properties must also act in a reasonable manner. For example, if a slip-and-fall accident occurred while the visitor was carelessly running through a store or parking lot, their behavior could be partially at fault.

Both property owners and visitors to properties must act in a reasonable way to ultimately prevent an accident and serious injuries. If you have suffered an injury, consulting with an experienced attorney as soon as possible can be helpful to determine your options to hold the property owner accountable.