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Personal Injury

All Visitors are Not Created Equal

September 12, 2013 | Michael Barasch

What happens if you slip and fall on someone else’s poorly maintained property?  Can you pursue fair compensation for your injuries and lost income? The answer is ― it depends on why you were visiting the property in the first place.

Under premises liability law, visitors to a property come in a variety of forms:

  • Invitees. While you might consider a guest in your home to be an invitee, under the law invitees are people who enter a property for purposes of carrying on business that benefits the property owner. In other words — customers.
  • Implied Invitees. This is mainly applicable to public and commercial spaces. For instance, if a building has a dock area, it is implied that delivery people are invited to use it.
  • Licensees. These are people you invite onto your property, including everyone from social guests to salesmen.
  • Bare Licensees. This term applies to people you allow (rather than invite) onto your property, mainly for their own purposes. An example might be a home inspector hired by potential buyers of your home.
  • Trespassers. Anyone who enters your property without your permission (or a search warrant) is a trespasser.

Why does the law care about these distinctions? Because in premises liability lawsuits, the status of the visitor determines the so-called duty of care the property owner owes to the visitor. The highest duty of care goes to invitees, who have a right to expect the property owner to keep the property safe.

Licensees only have a right to expect the property owner to warn them about any potentially dangerous conditions. If someone is a trespasser, the property owner is only required to refrain from intentionally injuring the visitor. Thus, the liability of the owner depends on the status of the visitor.

If you slip and fall because of broken pavement, defective stairways, slippery conditions, poor lighting or any other result of negligence, contact a skilled attorney for help today.

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