Attorneys Robert, David and James Cody

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Does premise liability differ for public and private properties?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Personal Injury |

When it comes to premises liability in Minnesota, it is important to understand the distinctions between public and private properties.

These differences can significantly impact the responsibilities of property owners and the rights of those injured while on the premises.

Public properties

Public properties, such as government buildings, parks and sidewalks, are spaces accessible to everyone. In Minnesota, the responsibility for maintaining the safety of these areas falls on the government or relevant public entity. If injured on public property, the key factor is often whether the entity responsible had awareness of the hazardous condition that caused your injury.

Public entities must regularly inspect and address potential dangers. They may hold liability for resulting injuries if they knew or should have known about a hazard and failed to rectify it. This emphasizes timely maintenance and proper signage to warn the public of any risks.

Private properties

On the other hand, private properties, such as homes, businesses and privately owned land, have distinct premises liability considerations. Property owners or occupants are responsible for maintaining a safe environment for visitors. This includes fixing potential hazards and adequately warning others about dangers that may not be immediately apparent.

Minnesota law expects property owners to exercise reasonable care, addressing issues promptly to prevent harm. If, for instance, a visitor slips on a wet floor in a store, the store owner may be liable if they were aware of the spill and failed to address it promptly. This principle extends to various situations, emphasizing the importance of proactive maintenance.

In 2021, falls accounted for 24.2% of emergency room visits. Whether an incident happens at a government entity or a private individual, the obligation to keep the premises safe remains rooted in the concept of reasonable care.