Premises Liability Claims

Premises Liability Claims

Every property owner is responsible for ensuring that the property in question is constructed and maintained in a reasonably safe manner.  Premises liability applies to commercial, private and public premises. 

Premises liability claims occur when an invitee has suffered a personal injury where a property owner and/or a party in control of the property fails to take reasonable safety precautions regarding that property.  The most common premises liability claims involve trip-and-fall, slip-and-fall and falling object injury claims.  There are sometimes also related negligent hiring, training and supervision claims. 

Resolving premises liability claims through litigation can be costly and lengthy.  Outcomes are unpredictable and, due to overburdened dockets, it can take months (or even years) for a case to go to trial. 

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Many personal injuries occur on business premises, which is why the property owners, those parties in control of the property and the injured occupants are generally interested in resolving the premises liability claims promptly and without undue publicity.  Lawsuits bring potential negative publicity, which sometimes causes a business interruption, so preventing litigation is sometimes a top priority. 

Resolving Premises Liability Claims Through Mediation

Mediation of premises liability claims has numerous advantages over traditional court litigation.  Control and confidentiality are primary characteristics of mediation that oftentimes enable the parties to a premises liability claim to resolve the claim in a mutually beneficial manner.  A court trial is an expensive, time-consuming, and often inefficient procedure.  It necessarily involves risk and negative publicity, which property owners and those parties in control of the property would prefer to avoid because negative public attention can interfere with and have a negative impact on their business.  Those are some of the reasons why mediation is a preferred procedure for resolving premises liability claims.

In mediation, there is no judge or jury – the mediator seeks to resolve the claim that arose between the parties due to the plaintiff(s) suffering personal injury.  The mediator is oftentimes a retired judge, an experienced attorney or another professional experienced in premises liability issues.  The parties to premises liability claims generally choose the mediator by signing a mediation engagement agreement. 

The mediator typically conducts a “joint” session in the presence of the parties and their lawyers, where all disputed issues are open for discussion.  After the joint session, with all mediation participants, the mediator will then conduct a series of separate talks (caucuses) with each party attempting to identify each party’s position and the possibility of settlement.  Separate sessions aim to find common ground between the parties, which will hopefully lead to a settlement.  If the parties agree on a settlement, the parties then sign a binding contract. 

Arbitrating Premises Liability Claims

Arbitration bears far more resemblance to a traditional court trial than mediation.

The parties in the premises liability case, generally through their attorneys, make opening statements, present witness and expert witness testimony (oftentimes in summary form by the attorneys) and then make closing arguments.

The rules of evidence are generally more flexible in arbitration then in a traditional trial.

There is no jury in an arbitration.  The arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators decide the premise liability issue(s).  Arbitration is generally held based on the parties’ consent or by an order entered by the judge presiding over the premises liability case.  

The cost of arbitration is generally much less than litigation and the procedure is confidential. 


Both mediation and arbitration offer significant advantages over traditional litigation.  The parties to a premises liability claim generally agree to alternative dispute resolution and/or the judge presiding over the premises liability case orders the parties to participate in an alternative dispute resolution procedure in order to amicably resolve the claim, all the while saving time and money.