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Premises Liability - Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is "premises liability" under Minnesota law?
  2. What are the most common types of premises liability cases in Minnesota?
  3. What is a slip & fall accident?
  4. Who is responsible for a slip and fall accident? The owner or the person injured?
  5. If I am injured in a slip & fall accident, who will pay my medical expenses?
  6. What if a salesperson, or another passerby, falls on an icy sidewalk in front of my house?


What is "premises liability" under Minnesota law?

The term "premises liability" generally refers to accidents that occur due to the negligent maintenance, or unsafe or dangerous conditions on property owned by someone other than the accident victim. In Minnesota, premises liability holds the owner or manager of the property responsible for injuries sustained on their property. It is the owner's responsibility to properly maintain their property so that it is a safe environment.

If you are injured because a property owner or a business establishment fails to provide a safe environment, you may have a right to bring a claim for various damages incurred due to your injury. In Minnesota, these damages include pain and suffering, medical expenses and lost wages.

What are the most common types of premises liability cases in Minnesota?

Slip and fall; and trip and fall accidents are by far the most common premises liability claims in Minnesota. These slips, trips or falls are commonly caused by a foreign substance or object that causes the fall. Other common causes are from unmarked uneven surfaces, holes on the walking surface, or defects on a floor or stairway.

Other common types of premises liability actions include but are not limited to dog bite and animal attacks. A property owner in Minnesota is strictly liable for dog bites. Dangerous conditions on the property contributing to injuries may include unsafe design, construction or maintenance of buildings, and poor or inadequate lighting.

What is a slip & fall accident?

Slip and fall describes the type of injury suffered on someone else's property as a result of a defect, slippery substance or other dangerous condition. These injuries commonly occur at supermarkets and restaurants and are due to food on the floor. They can also occur when inadequate steps are taken to remove ice and snow from sidewalks, driveways, and parking lots.

Who is responsible for a slip and fall accident? The owner or the person injured?

The general rule of law is that the owner or manager of the premises has a duty to keep the premises in reasonably safe condition or at least warn individuals of dangerous conditions of which the owner either caused, knew about or should have known about. The less obvious the defect or dangerous condition is, the greater the duty of the owner or manager to remedy or warn.

If I am injured in a slip & fall accident, who will pay my medical expenses?

Most businesses have general liability policies that contain a medical payments provision to cover at least some of your medical bills. Also, homeowner's policies also carry medical payments provisions, which will pay for some of your medical expenses. If the limits of those policies are exhausted or they are not available for some reason, then a person can look to their own health insurance policies to cover any medical expenses.

What if a salesperson, or another passerby, falls on an icy sidewalk in front of my house?

In Minnesota, ordinances say that landowners whose property is next to a public sidewalk are responsible for keeping the sidewalk in repair and clear of ice and snow. You might be fined in such a locality if you don't keep the sidewalk clear, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you would be found liable in a personal injury lawsuit. However, you might be found liable for negligence if you attempt to clear the ice and snow and in fact create a more dangerous condition--as when a property owner uses hot water to melt the snow and the water later freezes into a sheet of ice. So the issue isn't so much local law as it is general principles of negligence law.