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Premises Liability and Building Codes: Use Common Sense

Premises liability cases stem from an injury resulting from a dangerous condition on someone’s property. Those dangerous conditions can come in many forms, like water or ice on the floor, perpetrators injuring people when committing a crime, or uneven stairs and walkways. Sometimes those dangerous conditions are against building codes.

Building codes are designed to prevent injuries and protect people visiting the building. They are common-sense rules developed with objective research and data. They apply to the structure, layout, and design of buildings and are meant to keep people safe. An example of a dangerous condition that violates the building codes are uneven stairs. When stairs are uneven, they pose a significant fall risk because people expect stairs to be the same size. When they’re not, and someone gets hurt because of it, the owner of the premises is responsible for the harm.

The building code has changed throughout the years to reflect advancements in technology and data from use throughout the years. Because of this, a property owner typically doesn’t have to bring his or her property up to code each time a new code is introduced. It would be too big of a burden to require this. However, if a property owner has any work done after the initial construction, he or she must bring the part of the property being worked on up to current code standards.

Even though building codes are a good source of rules for property owners, they are not the final word. Property owners must use common sense. If there’s a dangerous condition, it must be barricaded, warned about, or fixed regardless of the building code. Building codes provide another cause of action if someone gets hurt because of a dangerous condition on a property.

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