Many states are different in the way they view a premise liability case in a court of law. A majority of them mandate that a property owner demonstrate reasonable care in maintaining the condition of his or her property. However, some states also make specific stipulations as to the duties and expectations of the property owner with respect to the individual visiting the premises.
This delineation can have a major impact on whether or not the injured party has a case against a property owner and to what extent the owner is legally bound to demonstrate reasonable care in owning and maintaining the property. As a result, bringing a premise liability case against a property owner can get somewhat complicated based on how you could be legally viewed in your visiting of the property in question.
There are three categories in which you may fall as an injured party on someone else’s property. You could either be an “invitee”, a “licensee”, or a “trespasser”. Knowing which of these categories applies to you at the time you were injured on someone else’s premises can have a significant impact on your ability to file a claim and win your premise liability case against the property owner.
As you can probably guess, an invitee is any individual who has explicit or implied permission to be on the premises as per the property owner. These individuals might be family, friends, neighbors, anyone who is well-known to the property owner and would have a reasonable claim to have been on the premises at the time he or she sustained injuries.
A property owner has a duty to exercise proper care and maintenance of his or her property during the time the invitee is visiting the premises to ensure that individual’s safety. Therefore, a property owner could be held liable for any injuries or loss and the costs associated with same.
If you are licensee on someone else’s property, this means that you have the owner’s permission to enter the premises, however, your purpose for being on the premises is your own. You have not been expressly invited even if you have been granted access to the property. Under the law, invitees and licensees have similar rights but, in the case of the latter, a property owner is only required to provide a warning to the individual if the property is unsafe.
That warning must be provided in the event that a property owner is aware of an unsafe condition on his or her property and the licensee would not otherwise be aware of the issue. The reasonable proper care and maintenance of the property is not as critical as the property owner warning the licensee when he or she steps onto the premises to inform them of any unsafe conditions.
The third and final category refers to any unauthorized individual who has entered the property without the explicit or implied permission of the property owner. If you are illegally trespassing on another person’s property, without an invitation or expressed consent, then the property owner holds little to no responsibility to provide any reasonable care in ownership or maintenance of the property, nor provide any sort of warning.
There is an exception to this rule in the event a trespassing party is a minor. A risk to a child who has entered a property without permission must be addressed on the part of a property owner in which an unsafe condition could be evident as a result of the owner’s actions. One example might be the presence of a swimming pool on the property in which a child could fall in and drown. The pool was not previously there and the placement of the pool creates an artificial condition that could pose a harmful situation to that child.
As you can see, the rules governing an individual’s presence on a premises and the limitations of the property owner’s liabilities in the event that individual sustains an injury can be complex. Don’t go it alone, hire a smart and skilled personal injury attorney to represent you and your rights. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries while you were present on someone else’s property. But if you attempt to negotiate on your own, you could be receiving less than you are rightfully owed or nothing at all.