An owner of a business in Arizona is required to use reasonable care to protect its customers from unreasonably dangerous conditions of which the owner has notice. (Revised Arizona Jury Instructions (Civil), 6th, Premises Liability 1). When the business owner fails to take reasonable precautions to avoid dangerous conditions, the business owner can be held responsible for injuries suffered by customers. These “premises liability” injury cases can arise out of the following common situations:
- Slippery or wet surfaces
- Snow and ice on steps
- Parking lot tripping hazards
- Uneven surfaces
- Building code violations during the construction or design of the building
Duty to provide Safe Entrance and Exit to the Business Property
In addition to the duty to maintain the business premises free from dangerous conditions and other hazards, Arizona law extends the business owner’s duty to include a customer’s likely entrance and exit route (ingress/egress) to and from the property. Thus, the business or landowners’ duty can extend beyond the property line. This duty of safe ingress and egress means that business owners and landowners can be responsible for injuries that occur off their property, including on neighboring properties and nearby public streets. See generally, Ritchie v. Costello, 238 Ariz. 51 (App. 2015).
The Arizona Court of Appeals recently gave an example of this rule in Mauvis v. Scottsdale Christian Academy, Inc. No 1. CA-CV19-0760 (App. 2020) (memorandum decision). In Mauvis, the plaintiff was hit by a passing vehicle when he crossed a nearby city street to attend a football game at a private school. He later died of his injuries. In reviewing the facts, the Court of Appeals concluded that the landowner defendant had created a route to its property across a busy city street because it knew or should have known its on-campus parking would not accommodate everyone who wanted to attend football games. Thus, because the landowner created an ingress/egress situation that involved crossing a busy city street, it had a duty to take reasonable precautions to make sure visitors could do so safely. In arriving at this conclusion, the Court recognized well-established law. See, Stephens v. Bashas’ Inc., 186 Ariz. 427 (App. 1996) (“When the activities conducted on the business premises affect the risk of injury off-premises, the landowner may have an obligation ‘to correct the condition or guard against foreseeable injuries.’”)
Know Your Legal Rights Regarding Business Ingress/Egress Injuries
Unsafe ingress/egress injuries cases can be very complex and require specific and unique expertise. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of an unsafe ingress/egress situation, it is important that you contact an attorney who has the knowledge and experience to address the unique issues that may arise.
This blog is for informational purposes only based on current case law as of 12/14/20. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full-service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.