How Homeowner Liability Can Depend on an Entrant’s Status


In New York, as in other states, homeowners have a duty to keep entrants from harm while on their property. The extent of this duty, of course, varies depending on the status of the entrant. This status can, consequently, affect the chances that an injured entrant has of recovering damages in a premises liability case.

There are roughly three types of entrants. The first are invitees, who are invited onto the property for some lawful purpose: for example, contractors invited to perform electrical or construction work. Homeowners can express their invitation, or the invitation can be suggested based on homeowners’ conduct or from the customs established on that property. Toward invitees, homeowners must exercise ordinary care.

The second type is licensees, whom homeowners allow to be on the property either explicitly or implicitly although there is no contractual relation. Social guests are a good example of licensees. Homeowners are to exercise enough care to prevent licensees from incurring willful or wanton injury. They must keep licensees reasonably safe from dangerous conditions and acts.

Lastly, there are trespassers, who enter a property without implicit or explicit consent. Homeowners do have a duty toward trespassers. If they anticipate the presence of trespassers, they must not do anything that would cause harm, such as lay down traps.

Those who are injured at someone’s home can file a claim, but they may want to speak with an attorney who understands premises liability law. The attorney may, with the help of investigators, gather proof that the homeowner failed to exercise his or her duty of care. Medical experts may help in determining how much victims should be reimbursed for in terms of medical costs. A successful premises liability claim might cover not only past and future medical expenses but also pain and suffering and lost wages.