Chances are you’ve seen warning signs when you start walking along an area that may put you in danger. Many businesses believe that warning signs can protect them from personal liability. In fact, several legal companies, including Horst Shewmaker Law Firm, found that an alarming number of their clients misunderstood the level of liability protection signs offer. If you own property and someone is injured on it, they can potentially sue you under premises liability. The New York City Bar Association mentions that if that injury was caused due to your negligence as the owner, the plaintiff might have a solid case against you. But what happens if there’s a sign present?
Proving Negligence Is Critical
In any premises liability case, the question is whether the owner was negligent in warning the injured person about the danger on the premises. For the plaintiff to win their case, he or she must prove that the owner was negligent in their duty of care. Reasonable care is the term typically used. This phrasing means that the owner or proprietor exercised at least the level of care that is reasonable when the plaintiff had their on-premises injury. In many cases, reasonable care comes down to repairing any potential dangers that may unintentionally harm a visitor and warning them of any hazards to their safety.
Statuses of Persons on a Property
In some cases, the status of the individual on the premises is called into question. A person on the property may fall into one of three categories: licensees, invitees, or trespassers. Licensees have express permission to enter the land, and invitees are invited to visit the property. In both cases, the owner has a duty of reasonable care to inform them of any dangers that exist on the property, such as with an easily-placed sign. Trespassers do not have the permission of the landowner to be on the premises. The only care the owner owes to this class of visitors is refraining from wantonly and willfully harming the individual.
Effectiveness Of the Warning Sign
While a warning sign is useful and may prevent a premises liability case, there’s also the consideration of how effective the warning sign was. Such a signal is only valid if it puts the visitor entering the property on notice. Thus, if anything was obstructing the alert when the visitor entered that made it hard or impossible to read, the sign isn’t practical, and the property may be liable for a case if harm were to come to the visitor. The mere presence of the sign on the property isn’t sufficient to protect the owner from liability in this case.
Signs Must Be Legible and Visible
The crux of the matter is that any danger that an individual may face within a property should be proclaimed on a sign. This sign should be displayed prominently so that all could see and should be large enough so that its message can be imparted from far enough away. Only if the warning sign is sufficiently legible and visible will it protect the owner from a premises liability case.