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Occupant vs. Property Owner: Who is Liable, and When?

Whether you are the owner of a property, a tenant/occupant of a property, or a visitor to a property, it is always important to know who is responsible when an injury takes place. Though an owner may always hope that legal responsibility rests with his tenants and a tenant may wish to lay blame at the feet of a building’s owner, the truth is that the answer changes based on a number of different factors, with the most important element being who was actually in control of the area or property when the injury occurred. This question is at the core of almost all premises liability cases, which are a type of lawsuit filed when an injury has occurred as a result of negligent care of a property. If you have been injured, whether in a property where you are a tenant or while visiting another person or business, it is important that you get sound legal advice from an injury attorney who is experienced in premises liability cases. The professionals at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help.

Though there can always be exceptions, in most cases the person or entity who is occupying a territory is the one who will be considered responsible for any damages or injuries that occur. Though commercial or residential tenants may wish to blame a property’s owner, the tenant is usually the person who is deemed to have been in control of the property at the time of the accident. This means that whether you are currently occupying a property or were the last one to have control over it, you are likely to be legally responsible for whatever happens on the property unless your lease specifically states otherwise.

Though a tenant is responsible for the property that they control – which may be their apartment or commercial space – that does not make them responsible for property over which they have no control such as a lobby, hallway, sidewalk or other common area. It is also an exceptional situation when the owner of the property has provided the property to the tenant in a dangerous condition and does not provide notification that it exists, or has not told the tenant that fixing it will be their responsibility. The owner of the property will also be held legally responsible for any damages that occur if the lease makes them responsible for the repair of the condition, or if they promise to fix the condition but have not actually done so.

Tenants who are concerned that a condition on their property may be dangerous should check the terms of their lease to determine who is legally responsible for fixing it. Assuming that the responsibility lies with the owner may be wrong, and may mean that anybody who is hurt in your business or residence may be able to pursue you for damages.

If you have been injured as a result of negligence in the care and maintenance of another person’s property, you may be eligible to file a premises liability lawsuit, but it is important that you know how to file your claim against. The attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers will evaluate your situation and make sure that you know who is responsible and how best to proceed. Call us for a free consultation.


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