If there is one rule to live by with premises liability, it is the notion that if you enter someone else’s property, you have a reasonable expectation to safety. Now, there are circumstances where this doesn’t hold up, and thus it isn’t exactly a “rule.” For example, if you are trespassing on someone’s else’s property, then you don’t have the expectation to safety.
Still, this is an important notion, and lingers over all premises liability cases. If the property owner or person responsible for a premises did not do everything in his or her power to foster a safe environment, and if they failed to address issues in a timely and proper manner, then they can be held liable for any injuries or accidents that involve that issue.
The status of the victim is important, though. As we mentioned, a trespasser essentially waives his or her right to an expectation of safety on a premises. But two other types of people — the “invitee” and the “licensee” — do have this reasonable expectation to safety. These are people who are on the premises by consent of the owner or because they invited onto the property by a person or organization (i.e. a business).
Even when you have this expectation of safety, though, you actions matter. If you were acting in a reckless or irresponsible manner near the dangerous condition on the premises — or even if you were acting that way in the absence of any dangerous condition — then you may not have a case.
Source: FindLaw, “Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?,” Accessed Sept. 29, 2015