Premises Liability: Exploring the Duties of Property Owners in D.C.

By Peter DePaolis

Injury Attorneys Holding Property Owners Liable in Premises Liability Cases Washington, D.C.

Premises liability is an area of personal injury law that focuses on a property owner’s legal obligation toward those who visit his or her property. In some cases, this obligation might extend to property managers or contractors who are responsible for maintaining or correcting issues on the property.

A property owner has a clear responsibility to keep the public safe when anyone visits the property. This duty is critical because, if it is breached and someone suffers an injury, that property owner or third-party might be held liable for all damages associated with the injury.

The Responsibility for Safe Premises

All property managers have a duty of care owed to those visiting their property who have a right to be on the premises. This responsibility extends to all parties responsible for maintaining the facilities. Just some of the obligations owed by the property owner and those third parties include, but are not limited to:

  • Keeping the property safe from acts of violence.
  • Providing adequate security and lighting.
  • Removing any hazardous conditions in a reasonable amount of time that could lead to an injury.

Types of Invitations and Limitations to Liability

Liability only extends so far, and there are different types of invitations that a court will assess to determine if the person had the right to be there, and what kind of duty was owed to him or her in return.

The common types of invitees to a property include:

  • Implied Invitation – This is an implied invitation to the property, such as a retail property where customers are invited to visit if they wish to purchase from that store.
  • Written Invitation – A written request can be a posted notification, invite to a party, letter, card, email, or advertisement telling a person to visit that particular property.
  • Spoken invite – The spoken invitation includes telephone calls, face-to-face meeting requests, teleconferences, or other verbal communications asking someone to the property.

There are also three types of invitees. These include: i) the person who is asked directly to the property; ii) the licensee, who is an individual invited for social purposes; and iii) trespassers. Trespassers are those who enter the property without reason and have no invitation from the owner to be there. Trespassers are not extended any duty of care.

Ignoring a Known Risk

There are instances where a person is injured but should have seen the known hazard and avoided injury. For example, say a person has placed a sign to not enter or use the other walkway because of danger ahead. If the person chooses to walk there anyway, and he or she is injured, the individual ignored known risks; in this situation, the property owner is not responsible.

Premises Liability Cases Are Highly Complex – Speak with an Attorney in Your Area Today

Handling these types of cases requires years of experience in premises liability. Companies representing owners will attempt to place part of the blame on the victim, or even try to use a victim’s injury to accuse him or her of making false allegations.

It is in your best interest to speak with a personal injury advocate regarding your accident. An attorney can determine what responsibility was owed to you, who was responsible for your injury, and ensure that you receive adequate compensation. Contact an attorney from Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP now by calling one of our three locations or speaking to a representative online.

About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.