Everyone has seen a yellow wet floor sign warning you that the area you’re walking into may be slippery. When you slip and fall or are injured in Maine on another party’s property, however, you may have a premises liability claim if the individual failed to provide take the necessary steps to ensure the area was reasonably safe.
As an example, in a recent state Supreme Court decision, the court addressed what duty, if any, is owed by a hospital to an individual who is on its premises solely to visit one of its patients. The plaintiff was visiting his hospitalized wife when he slipped and fell on ice in the hospital’s parking lot. The plaintiff sued the hospital, alleging inadequate snow and ice removal in the parking lot caused him to fall and that the hospital breached the duty of care it owed to him. The hospital was granted summary judgment, and the plaintiff appealed.
On appeal, the court sided with the plaintiff and reversed the lower court’s summary judgment decision. The court concluded that the plaintiff was an invitee, so the hospital owed him a duty to keep the premises and grounds in reasonably safe condition. Invitees, who are owed the highest duty of care in premises liability claims, can be established in two ways: either by showing that they were on the premises “for a purpose connected with the business conducted on the land,” or that “it can be reasonably be said that the visit may confer a business, commercial, monetary, or other tangible benefit to the landowner.” Because the plaintiff was on hospital grounds to visit his wife, which was closely connected to the hospital’s business, he satisfied the first element and established himself as an invitee.