When someone is injured because a property was not maintained properly, that injured person (the plaintiff) may be able to pursue a premises liability claim against the property owners or possessors (the defendants). If such lawsuits are successful, the defendants can be held responsible for the losses plaintiffs incurred as a result of their injuries.
FindLaw identifies a few situations in which improper maintenance of an outdoor area can lead to premises liability lawsuits.
Walkways and parking lots must be reasonably safe for use. For example, they should not contain extreme and abrupt changes in height, as people could easily trip and fall. Properly maintaining these areas may involve regular monitoring so that any cracks are identified and patched before they become dangerous.
The law does not generally necessitate that property owners and possessors remove snow or ice that has built up on their properties. In severe weather, however, owners and managers may need to take steps to ensure that areas in which people walk are free of icy patches.
Insufficient outdoor lighting may cause problems with visibility. If such issues lead to people tripping and falling, these injured parties may be able to pursue premises liability claims.
In any of the above situations, plaintiffs must show that the defendants behaved unreasonably. According to the Cornell University Legal Information Institute, this is a legal standard that is used in personal injury lawsuits to determine whether defendants behaved appropriately in a given situation. If defendants are found to have conducted themselves unreasonably, they are considered negligent and may be deemed liable to those who were injured on their properties.