Most people do not know or fully understand that when they enter a business establishment, the owner owes each customer a duty to make sure they are safe from danger while on their property. Business premises can include department stores, restaurants, and grocery stores. What happens if you are injured when you slip or trip and fall while visiting a business? Did the owner ensure you were safe from any dangers on their property? You may have a trip and fall injury claim against the business owner if they failed to meet their required standard of care.
What Standard of Responsibility is the Business Owner Required to Provide?
Property, land, and business owners owe a duty of care to people who enter their property. However, the level of duty these owners must provide depends on how the person who visits their property is categorized. Here, we will discuss in more detail the specific duty business establishments must provide customers. Visitors who enter onto a property to engage in a business transaction are considered invitees. A person who enters a business, by express or implied invitation of the owner, is classified as an invitee. For example, when you enter a restaurant for the purposes of purchasing food and drinks, you are considered an implied invitee who is transacting business within the scope of their invitation. Acting within the scope of an invitation means you are only engaging in activities that the invitation embodies. In the restaurant patron example above, this means you enter the premises for the sole purpose of dining and drinking. If you engage in activities outside of this scope, the owner does not owe you a duty of care.
What Duty of Care Does a Premise Owner Owe an Invitee?
Property owners owe invitees the highest standard of care to ensure they are safe from dangers on the property. Pennsylvania law follows the Restatement of Torts § 343 to describe the duty owed to an invitee. The property owner owes an invitee the following duties:
- A duty to use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property safe from dangers.
- A duty to reasonably repair and fix any known dangers or hazards on the property.
- A duty to reasonably inspect and discover unknown hazards and dangerous conditions in areas accessible to the invitee.
This final duty for a property owner to inspect the property and discover hidden hazards is the extra step that makes this standard of care higher than the others. This extra element is essential to ensure business owners provide their customer a safe environment.
What Happens if the Property Owner Breaches their Duty
If the property owner fails to meet their duties, they can be held liable if a patron suffers a physical injury because the owner did not ensure the establishment was reasonably safe for patrons. There is no precise method of deciding what is considered reasonable, the law defines “reasonable” as what a person of ordinary intelligence and judgment would do under the same circumstances.
I Think My Injury was Due to a Negligent Business Owner
If you feel you were injured by a negligent business owner contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin today. Our experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorneys will work hard to make sure you are fairly compensated for any damages you sustained because of a business owner’s negligence. This post only discusses a fraction of the difficult legal elements necessary to win a personal injury tort. Proving a negligence action requires a knowledgeable lawyer who will advocate for your rights vigorously and that is exactly what our firm will do.