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Premises liability in Delaware, explained

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2022 | personal injury

You have probably heard about lawsuits involving someone who tripped and fell on a wet floor or uneven sidewalk and got badly injured. Have you ever wondered what the legal theory behind slip-and-fall accidents is in Delaware?

This is an area of personal injury law known as premises liability. Basically, every property owner in Wilmington owes a duty of due care to everyone who enters their property. This duty is to keep the grounds reasonably safe and free from traps or at least sufficiently warn visitors. As an example, when someone drops and breaks a jar of applesauce at a grocery store, the store’s owners and management have a duty to get the applesauce mopped up as soon as reasonably possible or put up a sign warning customers to take care walking in that aisle.

Proving fault in a trip-and-fall case

Similar to other personal injury cases, the injured party must prove:

  • The property owner owed the plaintiff a duty of care
  • The owner’s conduct fell below that duty
  • The plaintiff was injured as a result

Let’s go back to the grocery store example for a moment. If nobody on the staff cleans up the mess or posts a warning sign within a reasonable time of discovering it (or reasonably should have discovered it) and a customer slips, falls and hurts themselves, the store could be liable for those injuries. The injured customer might be eligible for compensation for damages ranging from pain and suffering to medical bills and lost wages.

An exception

Note that there is an important exception that depends on the visitors’ status. State law prohibits trespassers from making a premises liability claim. Most other people, such as social guests and invitees (members of the public invited onto the premises, such as customers at a store) have the right to file suit.

A premises liability verdict or settlement can help you recover financially from the consequences of your injuries.