Accidents can happen anywhere, but when you step onto another person’s property, you expect the owner to exercise care to make sure the property is reasonably safe. If a landowner is so careless that they leave serious safety hazards all over their property, and a visitor is injured as a result, the injured should be able to hold the owner liable for their damages.
The legal theory behind this idea is known as premises liability, and it is important in many personal injury lawsuits. For instance, in a case where a guest is badly injured after falling down an unsafe stairway at a hotel, the injured party may try to hold the hotel responsible through the theory of premises liability.
Montana’s premises liability law
Every state has some form of premises liability on its lawbooks, and there is a lot of variation between them. Some states have very complicated premises liability laws. On first glace, Montana’s version of premises liability appears straightforward, but its complexities become clear once you start applying it to real-world situations.
As Montana’s premises liability law stands today, landowners have a duty of reasonable care toward everyone who might step onto their property. This means they must repair known safety hazards, or at least warn others of known hazards. If they breach this duty, they have been negligent. If their negligence leads to someone else being injured, they can be held liable for the injured person’s damages.
Applying the law to the facts
For instance, in the example of the hotel stairway we mentioned above, the hotel owner has a duty to repair the stairs, or at least warn guests of the danger. If the owner fails to do so, and a guest or visitor is injured as a result, the hotel owner can be held liable for the damages to the injured person.
It’s important to note that many factors can complicate cases involving premises liability. Injured people and their families should discuss the facts of their case with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney to see how the law will apply to their unique set of circumstances.