The blog has previously discussed various aspects of premises liability law in the state of Connecticut. We've touched on the use of the negligence tort in such cases, and the various elements that generally go into proving negligence, including duty, causation, and damages. We've also mentioned the various categories into which people present on someone else's property may fall, such as invitee, licensee and trespasser. But how far does, say, a business owner's duty extend, in physical or geographic terms?
For example, is a business owner liable for an injury that occurs in the parking lot in front of his or her store? Or how about a sidewalk that runs past the door? Is it always the duty of the business owner to ensure such areas are safe?
The answer likely depends on whether the business owner also owns the area under discussion, or at least has care and control of it. For example, in many cases, a person who slips and falls on a public sidewalk in front of a business may not have a cause of action against the business owner if the sidewalk is generally maintained by the city or county government (he or she may, of course have a complaint against the government entity if the area was not properly maintained.) If a store owns the parking lot attached to it, however, the owner would have the same duty as inside the store to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and to cure any defects he or she knew or should have known existed.
There are obviously more complicated cases in premises liability law, however. For example, what if a business is leasing space in a building? Who is liable then? There may be an issue in such cases about which party is meant to maintain which sections of the property in the commercial lease. These are the types of issues that may be able to be resolved by an experienced Connecticut legal professional.