What Is the Duty of Care for a Property Owner?

Property owners must either keep their properties in a safe condition or warn any visitors of potential hazards. This is the essence of duty of care, and it is also the basis of a premises liability lawsuit.

A personal injury lawyer at Douglas and London will investigate the case and hold those responsible for your injuries accountable. We can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Our experienced New York City slip and fall lawyers have recovered more than $18 billion in verdicts and settlements for our clients.

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Duty of Care

Duty of care on the property owner’s part includes regularly checking the premises for any dangerous conditions, and either repairing them as soon as possible or posting warnings. For example, if the property owner discovers cracked pavement or another defect in a walkway that poses a trip hazard, they should cordon it off or post signage—warning others of the danger if they cannot fix it right away.


Those trespassing on a property do not usually fall under the duty of care requirements unless the owner could have reasonably foreseen that trespassers frequent it. In that case, the owner does have a duty of care to issue a warning to those people. Owners should post signage, letting them know about a guard dog, or broken glass, or other hazards.

The situation differs if a child is trespassing. For example, if a child wanders on to a property and drowns in a swimming pool because the gate was unlatched– the property owner may prove liable.

Proving Duty of Care

People who are injured must prove that they were owed a duty of care. If someone falls in a store because of broken floor tiles, the store owner should have recognized the hazard and corrected it. However, if the person slipped and fell because another customer had just dropped a bottle of water on the floor, that is very different.

In short, proving you were owed a duty of care means showing dangerous conditions existed, and that the property owner either knew or should have known of the existence of such hazards. You must also prove that your injury relates to these conditions.

Reasonable Person Standard

Reasonable is a key term when considering duty of care because so much depends on what a reasonable person would do. This is the standard for New York but takes into consideration what is reasonable under the circumstances and is not necessarily one-size-fits-all. What an elderly person may do, or what someone who is disabled may do– means they are expected to act reasonably given their age or physical limitations.

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Contact us at Douglas and London today

If you or someone you know was injured due to a property owner’s negligence, contact the New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London today. Arrange a free consultation by submitting our online contact form or calling or texting 24/7. After reviewing your case, we will let you know whether you have a valid claim for a personal injury or premises liability lawsuit. Since we work on a contingency basis, there is no fee unless we win your case.