Premises Liability in Portland Establishments

By: Attorney Jim Dwyer

Portland, Oregon, is one of the most active cities in our nation. In addition to regularly being voted among the top bike-friendly cities by bicycling magazines and organizations, Portland is also home to dozens of cross-training facilities, fitness centers, and yoga studios. Every year, as predictably as Portland’s bike commuters ride to work, members of Portland’s active community experiences setbacks in the form of slips, trips, and falls. Workplace injuries are last thing that a bicyclist thinks about when he or she arrives at work after a morning ride. Gym members probably aren’t contemplating much other than their workout when they arrive to or leave from the place where they work out. Nevertheless, slip and fall injuries regularly occur and Portlanders should know their rights concerning this area of personal injury law, which is called premises liability.
Premises liability is the legal theory that holds property owners responsible if and when someone gets injured on their property. In Oregon, property owners are legally obligated to keep their premises reasonably safe for all people entering onto them. Property owners must inform individuals who are invited onto the premises (“invitees”) as well as individuals who are on the property for their own purposes with the owner’s consent (“licensees”) of any known and potentially dangerous situations that might cause injury. If the property owner can expect, within reason, that his or her property may be trespassed onto, then a warning is also owed to known trespassers on the property.
Returning to the above scenarios, in which Portlanders slip and fall on premises outside of their own homes and are injured as a result, it is important to examine several things in order to determine whether or not a potential plaintiff has a legal claim for negligence. The defense to a slip and fall accident on someone’s property under the premises liability theory is that the person coming onto the premises must act with a reasonable amount of care themselves. If they failed to act with reasonable care, then they cannot entirely blame the land or property owner for the injuries that they sustained. If the potential plaintiff was injured despite using a reasonable amount of care, the next question is whether the landowner or property owner knew or could have known of hazards on their property. If so, and if they did not advertise those hazards such that a reasonable person would have noticed them, then a claim of negligence can be brought against them.
The elements that a Portland, Oregon, plaintiff and his/her personal injury lawyer need to prove to bring a claim of premises liability negligence in this State are:
1. A duty of care was owed to the plaintiff.
2. That duty was breached.
3. Injuries occurred.
4. The breach in duty directly caused the injuries.
In the hypothetical gym example above, a duty would be owed to all gym members because a reasonable member would have every right to expect that the premises would be kept in working order for members to use. That duty of care would have been breached when the gym provided old or broken equipment to its members. Injuries could easily occur if and when customers used that inappropriate equipment, and it would have been the gym’s breach in duty that directly caused those injuries. Just as a gym could be held accountable for negligence if it knowingly used old or broken equipment, many types of establishments have a duty of care to make their premises reasonably safe to people who enter them. If you live in Portland and have been injured slipping, tripping, or falling in a retail, business, or other establishment then you should contact a Portland personal injury lawyer immediately. Lawyers like those at Dwyer Williams Potter LLP have vast experience in this realm of tort law and will deliver the results you deserve.

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