Property Owners Owe Different Duties to Different Visitors


Premises liability law may cover situations where an individual is hurt while on property owned by another. Whether or not a person can recover from injuries depends in part upon his or her status on the property. A trespasser, for example, is someone who does not have the right to be on the property. Property owners generally do not have a duty to warn trespassers of dangerous conditions, but they may be liable for willfully injuring a trespasser.

The second status is that of the licensee. This is a person who might be on the property as a social guest. Social guests are owed a greater duty than trespassers. The property owner has a duty to warn social guests about dangerous conditions.

A person hired to perform work on the property is in the category of the invitee. The property owner has greater duties with regards to invited workers. He or she must provide a safe place for the invitee to work in addition to the warnings owed to social guests and not willfully injuring them. This might cover a situation where someone is hired to clean the gutters. The person hired is assumed to be able to notice open and obvious dangers. The property owner is required to provide a safe environment to work and warn of hidden dangers.

In a case where a person is injured while on the property of another, an attorney may be able to help. Depending on the circumstances of the injury, the injured party may be entitled to recover for lost wages, pain and suffering, medical expenses or other damages. An attorney with experience in premises liability law may help the client identify parties with liability or work to negotiate a settlement out of court. An attorney might also gather evidence in preparation for trial or draft a complaint about damages.