Injured On Someone's Property? Why Your Reason For Visiting Matters
When you suffer an accident on the property of a business, that business may be liable for some or all of that accident.
But not all visitors are treated alike under personal injury law. Your invited status and the reason you're at the property affect how much responsibility the business has for your safety. To help you understand your rights here's what you need to know
Duty of Care Toward Licensees
When on another party's property, you are generally categorized as one of three types of visitors: licensees, invitees, and trespassers.
Many people would be surprised to find that they are called a licensee for personal injury law purposes. A licensee is a person who's authorized to be there by the property owner but whose reason is for their own interests or who may not be expected.
Licensees are the broadest category of people who might be on a property. They include vendors doing services at a business, friends who are guests in a home, meter readers, and even someone who stops at a gas station for directions.
What duty of care is owed to licensees? The business must protect these persons from known hazards and not act recklessly toward their safety. However, the property owner doesn't necessarily have to go looking for unknown hazards.
Duty of Care Toward Invitees
As the name suggests, invitees are persons who have been expressly invited by the property owner for the property owner's benefit. The most common invitees are customers of a business. While you may benefit from being a customer, the owner's goal is financial profit and they have explicitly invited customers.
The duty of care toward invitees is the highest of all categories. In addition to preventing harm from known hazards, the owner must also be proactive and take reasonable measures to prevent harm. This might include things like inspecting the property for hazards and removing hazards rather than just putting up warning signage.
Duty of Care Toward Trespassers
Finally, there are the uninvited and unauthorized persons who come on a property. These are trespassers, and most people know when someone falls into this category.
The property owner usually has minimal responsibility for even the trespasser's safety. In general, you cannot willfully injure or harm the trespasser nor can you intentionally create a harmful hazard.
Why It Matters
As you can see, the liability of the property owner isn't universal. Why you are there can make a big difference in who you can make a claim against for compensation after an injury. But you also aren't left without any protection no matter what your circumstances.
Start protecting yourself by learning more about status and personal injury law in your state today. Meet with a local personal injury attorney to begin.