What is occupier liability?

If you have suffered an accident on someone else’s land or premises, then you may be able to claim compensation under the Occupier’ Liability Act 1957. Under this act the owner or occupier of the land owes a duty of care to ensure that victors are kept safe.

The occupier means the person who controls the building, premises, land, warehouse, car park, etc. When establishing whether someone has adequate control over the property or land, the following factors are usually taken into account:

1.    Does the  person actually own the property/premises
2.    Do they share the property/premises with anyone else

The occupier doesn’t have to be an individual person; they might be a local council or authority, a company or partnership.

When it comes to duty of care, the occupier must take reasonable precautions to ensure all visitors are safe when using the premises.

If the occupier gains consent from the visitor that they will not be liable for any injuries or damages caused when entering their premises then they aren’t bound to a duty of care. An example of this, are signs such as ‘enter at your own risk’.

Similarly, if there are warning signs then the occupier will not be subject to a greater duty of care so long as the warning is reasonable enough to keep visitors safe.  A great example of this are, ‘mind your head’ signs on low ceilings or ‘mind the step’.

If you are a visitor and you contribute to your own injury then this is called contributory negligence. This means you may not be able to claim occupier’s liability as the occupier had taken all necessary precautions to prevent damage.

If you enter premises as a ‘trespasser’ and have not being given consent, then you may still be able to make an Occupies Liability claim against the occupier if you injure yourself. Under the Occupier Liability Act of 1984, the owner of the premises has a duty of care to people who are not consented visitors (trespasser) if the occupier believes there is a risk of trespassers coming within the vicinity of danger.

This act was brought in following a number of compensation claims where children were injured as a result of playing in derelict properties and disused land.

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