OCCUPIERS LIABILITY: Detailed Overview of the Claims and Coverages

occupiers liability

An occupier has a duty of care to all visitors to ensure the premises are reasonably safe. Unless the occupier is aware of a specific threat, in which case they must highlight it. Here is all you need to know about Occupiers Liability Insurance and how to file claims. You’ll also discover more about the 1957 and 1984 Occupiers Liability Acts and how they apply. Read on…

What is Occupiers Liability?

Occupiers liability is the field of law that deals with this duty of care, and it applies to anyone who owns or rents a property that can be visited by others.

An occupier has a duty of care to all visitors to ensure the premises are reasonably safe. Unless the occupier is aware of a specific threat, in which case they must highlight it.

This duty of care extends to anyone legitimately entering the premises, such as a member of the public or a post worker delivering letters.

If a child is visiting the premises, the occupier must take extra precautions to ensure their safety, as youngsters are less cautious than adults.

Unless there are dangers that the occupier is (or should be) aware of, the occupier does not have a legal duty of care for the safety of a trespasser. If there are any hazards on the premises, the occupier shall take precautions to make any visitors aware of them. Though they do not, if someone is wounded, the occupier may be held liable, even if the injured person did not have the authorization to visit the property.

If someone is injured on the premises as a result of an accident, they may be eligible to file an occupier’s liability claim for compensation.

What Categories of Properties are Covered under Occupiers Liability?

Occupiers liability legislation applies to public venues like shopping malls, department stores, parking garages, museums, hospitals, parks, restaurants, and private dwellings.

Confusion arises when an occupier’s liability action is referred to as a public liability suit and vice versa. In general, public liability claims cover any claim in which someone is hurt in a public area or on someone else’s property.

These claims relate to the duty of care that property owners and anyone else who has some control over the accident’s location owe. The Occupier’s Liability Act is a special Act of Parliament that outlines the duties of occupiers.

When you’re out and about as a member of the general public, you have the legal right to enjoy public spaces without putting your health or safety at risk. It is the occupier’s duty to guarantee that this is the case.

For instance, a company is typically in charge of maintaining shopping malls, and it is this company’s responsibility to guarantee that the mall is safe for patrons. Individual retail units may then be the responsibility of the shop’s owner. The occupant is then responsible for risk management in that environment, from ensuring that the plumbing and wiring meet the necessary safety requirements to cleaning up spillages that could represent a slip hazard.

Hospitals are likewise subject to occupiers liability legislation. If you are a visitor to a hospital, the hospital’s occupier is responsible for ensuring that the hospital premises are suitably safe for you. If you are hurt after slipping on a highly polished or recently mopped floor, you may be eligible to seek compensation from the hospital’s occupiers.

Occupiers’ Liability Case

If someone files an occupier’s liability claim, the court will evaluate whether the occupier broke their duty of care during the course of the case. Just because an accident occurred does not necessarily imply that the occupier failed to perform their duty.

In a recent case, a man was hurt after he tripped on ice in a municipal council-owned unmanned parking lot. He filed a claim against the council, claiming that they should have grated the parking lot when ice was predicted. The council does not have a proactive gritting mechanism in place, instead of relying on members of the public to notify snow or ice before dispatching a gritting crew.

The injured man’s case was dismissed. The court weighed the costs of proactively gritting the parking lot when ice or snow was forecast against the risks of someone slipping and falling and being injured. They discovered that proactive gritting would have been prohibitively expensive. As a result, they concluded that the council had taken reasonable precautions to protect visitors to the car park through its reactive gritting policy.

Although this individual’s claim against the council was unsuccessful, there are numerous examples of injured people winning claims after being involved in an accident in a public place as a result of the occupier’s failure to ensure that the premises were safe for visitors.

Workplace Accidents and Occupiers’ Liability

An accident at work is not covered by occupiers liability; instead, it is covered by the employers’ liability.

Employers have a duty of care under employers liability law to provide a safe working environment for their employees. This includes ensuring that their work processes are safe, that they have well-maintained and appropriate tools and equipment to do their job, and that their coworkers are competent. If a worker works in a location other than their employer’s place of duty, their employer is still responsible for ensuring that the workplace is reasonably safe for their employees. If they do not, and the worker is injured, the employer may be held liable.

Similarly, anyone in control of the workplace where the worker is hired has a duty of care to that worker. According to the Workplace Regulations 1992, they must ensure that the workplace and equipment are well-maintained, in excellent operating order, and in good repair. If they are not, and the worker is hurt, the person in control of the premises will be held culpable for the violation of the Regulation, and the injured worker may be able to sue them.

This claim could be made on the grounds that the person in charge of the premises violated the Workplace Regulations, which is evidence of negligence. If you are harmed while working somewhere that is within the control of your employer, you may be able to file an employer’s liability claim instead.

The Occupiers Liability Act of 1957

The 1957 Occupiers Liability Act was intended to govern the duty of care that a premises occupier owes to its guests. Except in instances where the duty may be expanded, restricted, changed, or omitted, the occupier owes the same duty of care to all of its guests.

The occupier has a duty of care to “take such care as is reasonable in all the circumstances of the case to ensure that the visitor will be fairly safe in using the premises for the reasons for which he is invited or permitted by the occupier to be there” (section 2(2)).

The term “occupier” is not defined in the 1957 Occupiers Liability Act, but it is usually believed that an occupier is someone who has some authority over the premises but does not have to occupy them. It is vital to understand that ‘the premises’ does not just comprise buildings and land, but also vessels, vehicles, aeroplanes, and temporary or mobile constructions like scaffolding and ladders.

A ‘visitor’ is someone who has express permission, implicit consent, or a legal right of admission. The 1957 Occupiers Liability Act specifically indicates that an occupier must be prepared for youngsters to be less attentive than adults and that a higher level of care may be required to keep them safe.

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At the opposite end of the spectrum are skilled visitors,’ who the 1957 Occupiers Liability Act anticipates will be more aware of the risks/dangers and the precautions that must be taken to protect themselves from such risks/dangers. The experienced visitor’s knowledge will only relate to their specific speciality and may not absolve the occupier of all liability; the occupier must still act appropriately.

In some instances, the occupier may discharge their duty of care. All conditions must be considered when deciding whether the duty has been discharged. A sign informing the visitor of the hazard, for example, maybe sufficient to discharge the duty, provided the sign allows the visitor to be sufficiently safe.

Among the possible defences accessible to an occupier are the following:

  • The visitor’s permission If a visitor willingly accepts the risk, the occupier may not be held accountable for the damage.
  • If the visitor fails to use reasonable care, the occupier may invoke contributory negligence to limit their liability.
  • By agreement, the occupier may limit their liability.

The 1984 Occupiers Liability Act (the “1984 Act”)

The 1984 Occupiers Liability Act was created to govern the duty of care that a premises occupant owes to uninvited guests. This 1984 Occupiers Liability Act covers trespassers as well as those who have overstayed their welcome as authorised visitors.

According to Robert Addie & Sons (Collieries) Ltd. v. Dumbreck [1929], a trespasser is “someone who wanders on the land without any invitation of any kind and whose presence is either unknown to the proprietor or, if known, is practically objected to.”

Before an occupier of premises owes a duty to another, three elements must be met. The occupier owes a duty if and only if the following conditions are met:

  • He is aware of the danger or has reason to believe that it exists;
  • He knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the other is in the vicinity of the danger in question, or that he may come into contact with the danger (whether the other has lawful authority to be there or not); and
  • The risk is one against which he may reasonably be expected to provide some protection to the other in all of the circumstances of the case.

Other Points to Consider

When determining whether an occupier owes a duty of care to an individual on their property, it is critical to evaluate whether a claim under legislation other than the 1957 Act and the 1984 Occupiers Liability Act is appropriate.

For example, if an animal on the occupier’s property causes an injury, the Animals Act 1971 will apply since the keeper of an animal bears a duty of care to prevent the animal from causing harm to others.

If the injury/damage is caused by an animal of a dangerous species, the animal’s keeper is strictly liable for the injury/damage, unless an exception applies.

When an animal that does not belong to a dangerous species causes injury or damage, the animal’s keeper is liable for the injury or damage if:

  • The damage is of a type that the animal, if not restricted, would be likely to produce, or, if caused by the animal, would be severe; and
  • Such likelihood is owing to the animal’s features that are not generally seen in animals of the same species or are not normally found except at certain periods or under certain conditions, and
  • That keeper was aware of their features.
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However, a person will not be held accountable for any damage caused by an animal housed on any property or structure to a trespasser if it is proven that either:

  • that the animal was not maintained there to protect people or property; or
  • If the animal was maintained there for the safety of people or property, keeping it there was not unreasonable.

Since can be seen, it is critical to understand the various aspects of liability due by an occupier when preparing or advising on a claim in order to appropriately portray the facts of the breach of duty, as you may be entitled to claim under the 1957 Act and, alternatively, the 1984 Occupiers Liability Act.

Occupiers Liability Insurance

Occupiers of premises can be held accountable for harm or damage that occurs there under the Occupiers’ Liability Acts.

The ‘occupier’ is defined under the law as the person in control of the premises, which could be the tenant rather than the owner. This means that if you’re a business owner with a commercial property, whether you rent or own it, you’re likely to be considered an ‘occupier.’ As a result, you must take precautions to ensure that the property is safe and free of risks.

You could be held accountable if a visitor is injured or their property is damaged on your business premises. For example, if a consumer fell over in your store due to a wet floor, or a supplier tripped over a loose floor tile in your restaurant, you could face a compensation claim. Occupiers’ liability insurance can protect you in these scenarios by covering legal bills and compensation payments if you are sued.

In terms of insurance to cover the business premises itself, the landlord is normally responsible for insuring the structure, but if you want to insure things like furniture and decorative objects, you’ll need to take out contents insurance.

How to File for Occupiers Liability Insurance Claim.

If you are harmed in an accident anywhere within an occupier’s control because the occupier failed to uphold their duty of care, you may be able to file an occupier’s liability insurance claim.

If you are able, the first thing you should do is report the accident to the premises’ administration and ensure that the specifics of the accident are recorded in the accident book. It’s also a good idea to capture images of the accident scene.

Get the contact information of anyone else who witnessed the accident, the aftermath, or the circumstances leading up to the tragedy. Their eyewitness statement could be extremely helpful in proving your case.

Occupiers Liability FAQs

What is an occupier under the Occupiers Liability Act?

The term “occupier” is not defined in the 1957 Act, but it is usually believed that an occupier is someone who has some authority over the premises but does not have to occupy them.

Who needs occupiers liability insurance?

If your company interacts with members of the public or customers. Alternatively, if there is a possibility that you will cause property damage, you may want Occupiers Liability Insurance.

Why was occupiers liability introduced?

The Occupiers’ Liability Act of 1995 was enacted to address landowners’ and occupiers’ vulnerability to claims originating from injuries to visitors, recreational users, and trespassers.

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If your company interacts with members of the public or customers. Alternatively, if there is a possibility that you will cause property damage, you may want Occupiers Liability Insurance.

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The Occupiers' Liability Act of 1995 was enacted to address landowners' and occupiers' vulnerability to claims originating from injuries to visitors, recreational users, and trespassers.

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