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Premises Liability Claims: Proving an Unreasonable Hazard

Premises Liability Claims: Proving an Unreasonable Hazard

Premises liability laws in Arizona require property owners to protect invitees, licensees, and even trespassers – to an extent – from harm while on their property. In most cases, this duty of care is owed to invitees like customers and clients and licensees like welcome guests and visiting friends. A subtle yet important key to this duty of care is whether or not the hazard causes an invitee or licensee harm was “unreasonable.”

As strange as it might seem, some hazards on a piece of property are not “unreasonable” if they are in the open and should be obvious to the average person. A hazard might not be unreasonable if it is clearly brought to the attention of guests and customers before it has a chance to cause an accident. It is also possible for a hazard to be excusable if the property owner had no reason to know it existed before an accident occurred.

With this in mind, a premises liability claim stands the strongest chance of success if the claimant is hurt by a hazard that was difficult to notice, not disclosed to them, and was not known by the property owner.

Classic Examples of “Reasonable” & “Unreasonable” Hazards

To get a clearer picture of an unreasonable hazard worthy of a premises liability claim in Arizona, consider these two classic examples of a slip and fall accident in a grocery store:

  • Example 1: You are shopping in a grocery store when the shopper next to you drops a carton of orange juice, making a puddle in the aisle. Since you were looking at your grocery list when they made the spill, you did not notice or pay it any mind. The shopper walks away in a hurry, you take a step forward, and slip in the juice, suffering an injury. In this scenario, the grocery store would likely not be responsible for your injury because it would be unreasonable to expect the employees to know about and clean the spill in such a short amount of time.
  • Example 2: You are shopping in a grocery store and hear an overhead page about a spill by the front registers. You assume it will be cleaned up and pay it no further mind. When you go to checkout, you slip on a puddle of water and suffer an injury. In this scenario, the grocery store would likely be responsible for your injury because it is reasonable to expect them to stop you from approaching the puddle. The store was aware of the spill, and the hazard was in an area where customers are expected to go, yet no one warned you about it when you approached.

Of course, every premises liability claim is unique. You should never assume you do not have a claim just because it seems like you might have been hurt by a “reasonable” hazard. The safer choice is to consult with a premises liability attorney and discuss your options.

Rafi Law Group, PLLC offers legal counsel and representation to claimants in Phoenix, Arizona. Call (623) 207-1555 now if you need our help with your premises liability case.

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