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What is the Difference Between Premises Liability & General Liability?

If you have ever reviewed your insurance policy as a homeowner or business owner, then you have probably seen the terms ‘premises liability’ and ‘general liability’ mentioned several times. You might have also seen or heard these terms if you suffered an injury recently and are looking into filing a personal injury claim. Despite the commonality of these terms, most people do not know how these types of liability are different.

What is Premises Liability?

The legal concept of premises liability holds property owners accountable for the safety of people on their property. When someone has been explicitly invited a piece of property or into a building, the property owner has responsibility to protect them from unreasonable hazards. In other words, if the property owner knew or should have reasonably known about a hazard that hurts someone visiting the property, then they may be financially accountable for the related damages and costs.

Premises liability insurance is sold to property owners to spare their own finances in case of an accident on their land. Many homeowners have premises liability insurance without realizing it has been bundled into their homeowners’ insurance policy.

What is General Liability?

General liability is actually a broader legal and insurance term than premises liability, which it often covers. That is to say, premises liability is a subset of general liability in terms of both liability law and insurance policies.

Everyone owes a duty of care to everyone else, regardless of how they know each other or interact. The level of care owed depends on the specifics of the relationship. Basically, you can be held liable for someone’s injuries and damages that you cause through the legal concept of general liability or negligence. For example, a company selling a defective product that results in an injury.

In insurance situations, general liability policies are often sold to property owners to cover a wide variety of accidents and situations but often with lower coverage caps. If you are a homeowner or a business owner, then you probably have a general liability policy that helps pay for various damages suffered by others on your property outside of any premises liability insurance policy you might also own.

Why is the Difference Important?

From a glance, the differences between premises liability and general liability might understandably seem moot. However, when it comes to filing a personal injury claim, the distinctions can be crucial because it may afford the claimant an additional insurance policy to file against for damages. An experienced personal injury attorney will know how to find all insurance policies held by the defendant and how to file against them in relation to the details of the claim and the damages experienced. For example, if you need to file a slip-and-fall injury claim against a neighbor, then your lawyer might be able to file against both their premises liability and general liability policies, giving you a greater chance at getting the compensation you need to recover.

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