Premises Liability Lawyers | Slip & Fall Attorneys
Under the Premises Liability law of most states, the status of the injured person – whether you were an “invitee”, a “licensee” or a “trespasser”- determines your rights, and the property owner’s duty to keep the property safe will differ depending on this status.
Invitee to Unsafe Premises: Liabilities
An invitee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on the property for business or commercial benefit to the possessor of the premises. An invitation may be either express or implied.
For example, a store’s “open” sign is an expressed invitation. An open gate may be an implied invite. A property owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee.
Typically, one who owns or controls property has a duty to use ordinary care to warn or otherwise protect an invitee from risks of harm from a condition on the premises if:
- The risk of harm is unreasonable, and
- The possessor knows, or in the exercise of ordinary care, should know of the condition and
- Should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to an invitee.
The possessor may also have a duty to periodically inspect the premises for the introduction of hazards to invitees. For example, a grocery or convenience store may be obligated to periodically check its floors for spills or broken merchandise.
Premises Liability for a Licensee
A licensee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on the premises for any purpose other than a business or commercial one. A social guest is considered to be a licensee.
Typically, a property owner is liable for harm caused to a licensee by a condition on the premises if the victim establishes:the owner knew or should have known of the condition; should have realized that it involved an unreasonable risk of harm to the licensee; and should have expected that the licensee would not discover or realize the danger, the possessor failed to exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe or to warn the licensee of the condition and the risk involved, and the licensee did not know or have reason to know of the condition and the risk involved.
For example, if a homeowner knows that one of the steps leading into a basement is broken or that the rug is loose but wouldn’t be noticed by a guest, the homeowner may be liable to a guest who is injured by the property condition.
Swimming pools or ponds are considered “attractive nuisances” and property owners are required to take more care to protect their property from trespassers.
The Trespasser Slip and Fall
A trespasser is a person who enters the premises of another without an invitation for his or her own purposes.
Where property owners are not aware of the presence of trespassers, they typically have no duty to warn a trespasser of any dangers or to make their premises safe for the benefit of a trespasser.
If the property owner knows that trespassers could be on the property, the owner owes a duty to make the property safe but less than the one owed to invitees or licensees.
However, if a child trespasses on land, the property owner owes a higher duty to warn, repair, and protect from harm, since because children are less able to detect dangers due to their youth and inexperience.
Owners of swimming pools or ponds are required to take more care to protect their property from trespassers, as these kinds of properties pose “attractive nuisances” that attract trespassers to the property.
If you have been hurt on a dangerous property and have questions, contact The Farris Law Firm at 314-A-LAWYER (252-9937) today for a free consultation.
About the author, S.E. Farris
Spencer Farris is a personal injury lawyer at The S.E. Farris Law Firm in St. Louis, Missouri. See his profile on Google+