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Premises Liability: Understanding the Property Owner’s Burden of Care

Understanding the Property Owner’s Burden of Care

Premises liability is the property owners responsibility to have to safely maintain the premises of the properties they own.

Many States will hold different standards of obligations and responsibilities for property owners to maintain in respect to the care of their property.

Depending on the State, some will require property owners to demonstrate reasonable maintenance of the property when it comes to all those who may enter the premises.

Others will limit the property owner’s responsibilities to the status of the individual who may enter the property.


3 Different Groups

In the states where each visitor holds a status while on the premises, this is categorized into three different groupings:

  • Group 1: Invitee

An individual who is considered an invitee is regarded as having the property owner’s expressed or otherwise implied consent to enter the premises. Generally, invitees are neighbors, friends, and family members of the property owner.

Traditionally, the property owner owes a duty of reasonable care, in regard to maintenance of the property, which will maintain a reasonably safe premise for the invitee.

  • Group 2: Licensee

A licensee is an individual who has the property owner’s expressed or otherwise implied authorization to enter the premises, but is also entering the premises for his or her own reasons.

For instance, a licensee can be a sales person. Traditionally, a property owners owes a licensee a reduced degree of duty to caution of dangerous conditions which would cause unreasonable risk of injury in the event that:

i. The property owner knows about the hazard and
ii. The licensee is not likely to notice the hazardous condition.

  • Group 3: Trespasser

A trespasser is an individual who has not been authorized by the property owner to enter the premises. Typically, property owners do not owe a trespasser a duty of care. It is worth mentioning that this rule does not apply if the trespasser is a minor.

In the event that a child enters the premises without permission, the property owner has a duty to use reasonable care in order to avoid a predictable risk of harm to minors caused by certain conditions. For example, a property owner has a duty to ensure that the swimming area in the premises is gated to safeguard from potential mishaps.

Since these rules and regulations are complex and often difficult to fully understand it is recommended that those who seek to file a premises liability do so with a qualified attorney. Our experienced lawyers will be able to determine if there is validity behind the case.