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A look at a basic premises liability claim

Entering property owned by a Hawaiian business should not be a dangerous act. Yet, far too often property owners fail to ensure that their premises are safe for those they invite onto their property. This can leave unsuspecting individuals with serious injuries, whether resulting from a slip- or trip-and-fall, inadequate lighting or inadequate security. When an individual is hurt under these circumstances, then he or she may want to consider taking legal action in hopes of recovering compensation for what could be extensive damages, including medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Yet, before liability can be imposed and compensation can be recovered, certain legal elements must be proved. Generally speaking, those who enter onto the property of a business are considered invitees, which means that the property owner is required to take reasonable steps to ensure that the premises is free of dangerous conditions. Therefore, in order to succeed on a premises liability claim an individual must show that the property owner either knew or should have known of the hazardous condition and failed to timely remedy the hazard or provide warning of it.

A lot of this boils down to foreseeability. A grocery store, for example, should expect that liquids and other slippery materials will be spilled on the floor. Therefore, they should ensure that the floors are routinely checked for wet floors so that warning signs can be put up and the floors can be quickly cleaned. These are reasonable actions that attempt to keep customers safe. If, however, a spill sits for hours without any action, then a grocery store owner has likely failed to take reasonable steps to ensure that his or her premises are safe for invitees.

Although slip-and-fall accidents may seem relatively minor, they can actually have wide-reaching and long-lasting effects on victims. Some people mistakenly think that a slip-and-fall accident is their own fault. In many instances, though, the incident in question can be wholly attributable to a property owner's negligence.

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