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“Slip, Trip and Falls: Injuries on Someone Else’s Property”

Peter W. Riley
March 2007

In Minnesota, property owners have legal responsibilities to people coming onto their property. However, the responsibilities owed are different depending on if that person’s a trespasser, guest, tenant or patron. In fact, the steps a property owner must take in order to protect you while you are on the owner’s property depends upon your reason for being there in the first place.

If you are a trespasser and have no invitation to be on the premises of another, the owner of the land merely has the duty to refrain from causing you any willful or wanton injury.

If you have been invited onto someone else’s property as a member of the public or as a business visitor for the purpose of conducting business, the owner of the property has greater duties to you. The owner has a duty to discover any dangerous conditions on the property and must either repair the dangerous conditions or warn you about them properly to conduct business. If the landowner knows of a dangerous condition that could cause him to you, the owner must take reasonable care to make the condition safe and to warn you of the danger.

If you are a tenant, your landlord has the duty to exercise the same type of reasonable care to inspect and repair common areas, stairways and passageways under the landlord’s control.

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, you may have a claim for damages arising out of the negligence of the landowner. It may be possible for you to recover for your medical bills and expenses, as well as for your pain, suffering and permanent injury.

What happens if I’m injured at a friend’s house?

If your friends are homeowners, they most likely have homeowners insurance to protect them if you are injured on their property. If they are renters, they may have renters insurance, or some type of umbrella coverage, for the same reason. Also, if they are renters, the landowner probably has insurance coverage for claims filed on the property. If you are seriously injured, it’s in your best interest to consult with an attorney whether the incident happened at a friend’s house or otherwise.

There are 6 steps you should take if you are injured on someone else’s property:

1. If possible, investigate what conditions caused the injury. Was there a broken handrail, water on the floor, a defective light or other condition?

2. Identify witnesses and get their names, addresses and phone numbers.

3. Get the name, address and phone number of the property owner.

4. Try to obtain information regarding the owner’s insurance.

5. Find out whether the owner has any “medical pay coverage” that could be used to pay your medical bills.

6. If an accident report is made, be sure and get a copy of it for your records.

You’ll want to seek prompt medical attention for your injuries. It ‘s very important that you have your injuries documented by a medical doctor.

Again, it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer.  Most lawyers will handle your case on a contingent fee basis, with the fee paid out of your final settlement or recovery.

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