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Who is responsible for keeping a place safe to walk through?

It's important to remember that you face a significant risk of more than just overspending this holiday season. If a store isn't well-maintained, its parking lot is badly deteriorated or there are just generally dangerous people hanging around a shopping center, you could be at risk of serious physical injury.

If something does happen, this is what you should know:

1. Premises liability laws put the responsibility on the negligent property owner for your injuries. In some cases, more than one business entity may actually have liability.

For example, if a parking lot has deteriorated and is unsafe to walk though in the dark because of poor lighting, the retail store that rents the space may be equally liable for your safety (and injuries) as the property owner. Both would share the duty to make sure the lighting is adequate (along with other issues, like snow and ice removal) to keep shopper safe.

2. Premise liability also includes issues of inadequate security. If you are injured by someone who mugs you, punches you and grabs your purse or wallet or otherwise assaults you, the property owner or retail renter may have liability if they had reason to know that their property was attracting dangerous people.

For example, if there have been complaints filed about a mugger terrorizing people, that's a big issue that the mall's owner and store retailers have the responsibility to address.

3. Slips and falls remain some of the biggest premises liability problems faced by consumers -- especially around the holidays when there is a huge influx of shoppers and a lot of temporary hired help.

Stores have a responsibility to keep the aisles clean, mop up moisture from melting snow near entrances and exits and generally keep the store safe to walk through. Seasonal displays are another holiday hazard that can cause falls -- they tend to overwhelm the aisles and are often less sturdy than they look. A poorly-placed display could leave a store owner open to a lawsuit.

There are numerous ways that store and building owners can get a place ready for the holiday season and the influx of shoppers. An attorney can help if they fail to do so and you get hurt because the property is unsafe.

Source: Reliable Plant, "6 guidelines to prevent workplace slips, trips and falls," accessed Oct. 26, 2017

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