There are many types claims made as a result of injuries on another person’s property under Alabama’s common law. These claims are commonly referred to as premises liability cases or “slip and fall,” or “trip and fall” cases. They can occur inside or outside of a building, in parking lots, sidewalks, entry ways, yards, or many other places. Typically, these claims involve injuries caused by debris or liquids on floors, falling merchandise, uneven floors or defects in floors, poor lighting, and other hazardous conditions. Many of these conditions can be traced to violations of applicable building or life safety codes.
Premises Liability cases can be some of the most difficult cases to prove under Alabama law. There are many factors that have to be considered to determine whether you have a valid claim against a property owner or business. The business or property owner is not responsible for an injury just because it occurred on their property. In order to recover, the injured person must prove that the business or property owner did something or failed to take some action that caused the injury.
The majority of premises liability cases occur at a business or in a common area outside of a business. The Alabama Supreme Court defines the duty a business owner owes to customers (or “business invitees”) as follows:
“The owner of a premises owes a duty to business invitees to use reasonable care and diligence to keep the premises in a safe condition, or, if the premises are in a dangerous condition, to give sufficient warning so that, by the use of ordinary care, the danger can be avoided.”
Kmart Corp. v. Basset, 769 So.2d 282 (Ala.2000). However, “the mere fact that a business invitee is injured does not create a presumption of negligence on the part of a premises owner.” Hose v. Winn-Dixie Montgomery, Inc., 658 So.2d 403, 404 (Ala.1995). Rather, “a premises owner is liable in negligence only if it fails to use reasonable care in maintaining its premises in a reasonably safe manner.”