Overview of Ohio Premises Liability Law

A Plate with inscription Premises liability and gavel. Concept for premises liability attorney.

Slip and Fall / Trip and Fall

Premises liability law involves claims made because of an injury you sustained while on someone else’s property. While not every accident gives rise to a premises liability claim, property owners have a duty to use reasonable care to prevent injuries on their property and to warn guests of dangerous conditions.

Proving Negligence in an Ohio Premises Liability Lawsuit

There are different types of premises liability claims, but the most common claims are those arising from “slip and fall” and “trip and fall” accidents. These types of accidents are caused by unsafe conditions on the property, such as spilled liquid, or an improperly maintained floor surface.

There are three elements to proving a premises liability claim:

  1. The property owner had a duty to the guest, customer, or patron to keep the premises reasonably safe;
  2. The property owner violated that duty; and
  3. A person was injured as a result.

To prove your case, you must show that there was an unsafe condition on the property, that the unsafe condition caused your injuries, and that the property owner was negligent. This means they created the unsafe condition, or knew about the unsafe condition but failed to do anything about it, or should have known about the unsafe condition and failed to address it.

For example, a property owner should know if there is a broken step on the stairs leading to a house, or a deteriorated piece of concrete on the sidewalk outside of their place of business. If they fail to do anything about the unsafe condition and you are injured, the property owner can be held liable.

Ohio Law Recognizes Different Categories of Guests

A property owner owes a different duty of care to people on their property depending on why the guest was there.

  • An invitee is someone who is on the property at the invitation of the owner. The invitation may be express, such as when someone invites you onto their property, or implied, such as a store that is open to the public for business. The property owner has a duty of ordinary care to protect the safety of an invitee.
  • A licensee is someone on the property with the express or implied permission of the owner but who is there for their own benefit. A property owner can be liable for reckless or willful behavior that injures a licensee.
  • A trespasser comes onto the property without the owner’s permission. Property owners owe a limited duty to trespassers and are only liable for willfully, recklessly, or wantonly causing harm.

Different Laws for Children

Ohio applies different premises liability laws when it comes to children. A property owner has a higher duty of care to protect children, even if they are trespassers on the property.

Common Premises Liability Claims

Although many different scenarios can lead to premises liability claims, “trip and fall” and “slip and fall” claims are some of the most common.

Trip and Fall

A trip and fall accident occurs when there is a defective condition on the surface of a walkway that causes a person’s foot to get caught, resulting in a fall. A trip and fall accident can be caused by potholes, uneven surfaces, exposed wires, and objects left where people usually walk. Other hazards include cracks, depressions, debris, and tree roots on sidewalks. A property owner can be held liable if they fail to remedy the dangerous condition or do not place proper signs warning guests of the hazardous condition.

Slip and Fall

A slip and fall accident is similar to a trip and fall in that the victim is injured while falling. But instead of tripping over an exposed hazard, slip and fall accidents occur when the victim loses their footing due to a foreign substance on the ground.

Common causes of a slip and fall injury include liquid or a slippery substance on the floor in grocery stores, or grease on the floor at a restaurant.

Defenses to Premises Liability Claims

Property owners have specific defenses available when someone was injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident on their property.

Ohio’s Open and Obvious Doctrine

If the hazard that caused the injury was “open and obvious,” the property owner is not liable for any injuries that occurred. The basis for this legal doctrine is that an open and obvious hazard serves as its own warning, and a property owner has the legal right to expect a guest to notice the danger and take reasonable precautions to protect themselves.

Whether a hazard was truly “open and obvious” is often unclear, and the best way to determine whether a danger was open and obvious is to speak with our experienced premises liability lawyers.

Natural Accumulations of Snow and Ice

Property owners generally do not have a duty to warn invitees of hazardous conditions caused by ice and snow. However, a property owner can be held liable if they created an unnatural accumulation of ice or snow by using gutters or drainage systems, or if they removed snow in a way that caused ice or snow to accumulate in an unlikely place.

Contact the Ohio Premises Liability Attorney at RKPT Today

Ohio premises liability law can be complicated, and it can be difficult to determine whether you have a claim. If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be entitled to compensation. The premises liability attorney at RKPT will assess your situation to determine whether you have a claim for relief. We will guide you through the claims process, work to negotiate a favorable resolution to your claims and, if necessary, pursue your right to compensation in court.

To learn more, call (513) 721-3330 or contact our premises liability attorney today to schedule a free, confidential consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help. We are based in Cincinnati and represent people throughout Ohio.

Attorneys: Jarrod M. Mohler, Michael A. Galasso, Cory D. Britt, Matthew C. Curran