Premises Liability

Property owners have a duty to provide a safe environment for their visitors. When they fail to do so, and an individual is injured on the property then the landowner and/or person or entity responsible for the upkeep of the property may be held liable. Often these cases have multiple defendants that point the finger at each other in an attempt to avoid responsibility. Control over the property is sometimes more important than ownership of the property in determining liability. Getting compensation for injuries suffered on someone else’s property depends on the reason that the victim was on the property, the dangerous condition that caused the accident, and how long the condition had been in place. The most common premises case is a slip and fall. The scope of the duty depends on the classification of the person injured.

An invitee is a person who goes onto property with the owner’s knowledge and consent. Usually, the invitee enters the property for a business purpose or for a reason that will result in some benefit to the property owner. The owner must use ordinary care to make the premises safe for an invitee, including all actions that a reasonable owner would have taken to discover hidden dangers on the property. A shopper is typically an invitee.

Licensees have expressed or implied permission to be on the property in question, but they are there for a social rather than a business purpose. A landowner must not intentionally harm a licensee or cause him or her any injury through wanton conduct or gross negligence. Generally, a landowner does have a duty to warn a licensee of hidden dangers. Friends and friends of friends generally fall into this category.

Trespassers enter a landowner’s property without permission. Generally, the only duty that a landowner owes to a trespasser is to not intentionally harm him or her. However, this may be different in cases involving children, where a higher level of care is sometimes required.