I recently published an article on the topic of premises liability law at Work It, Richmond. It begins:
When customers or clients enter business establishments, many customers think that a business must ensure that the property is 100% safe to prevent a customer from injury – but that is not necessarily the law in Virginia. Clients or customers of business establishments generally are considered “invitees.” While an “invitee” in Virginia has “the right to assume that the premises are reasonably safe for his or her visit” (Va. Model Jury Instruction 23.030), a business owner “does not guarantee an invitee’s safety” (Va. Model Jury Instruction 23.040). Instead, that retail shop or service provider must (1) use ordinary care to have the business safe or (2) use ordinary care to warn a customer about an unsafe condition that the business knows about or should know about unless the dangerous condition is open and obvious to the customer (Va. Model Jury Instruction 23.040). Finally, a customer must not contribute to his or her own injury – this is called “contributory negligence” and means the “failure to act as a reasonable person would have acted for his or her own safety under the circumstances of the case” (Va. Model Jury Instruction 6.000).