The owners or occupiers of a property have a responsibility for anyone who enters their property. In most states, there are three types of entrants: invitees (individuals who are specifically invited to a property), licensees (individuals on the property for their own benefit) and trespassers (individuals who weren’t invited or wanted on the property). The responsibilities of the property owner or occupier vary depending on the classification of the entrant. If you have been injured while on someone else’s property, it’s necessary that you know your classification, since that will affect your case.
In most cases, when an individual falls on someone else’s property, the owner or person that’s occupying the property was the one negligent. In order to prove this argument, the plaintiff has to show evidence that the defendant failed to perform a duty or failed to perform said duty correctly or within a certain standard. Evidence must also be revealed that shows that the lack of action or quality was what caused the plaintiff’s injury. Whether the plaintiff was an invitee or licensee to the property will also have an affect on the landowner’s or possessor’s duty to the injured party.
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The Classification of Entrants
The responsibility of the property owner or occupier changes depending on how the individual is classified. There are some states that state that the owner or occupier of the property has a duty to entrants no matter their status. The status is what determines if the injury was foreseeable or preventable, which then determines if the owner or occupier is liable for negligence. The classification of entrants has been expanded in some states.
An invitee is a person that comes to a property after receiving an implied or expressed invitation from the occupier or owner. For example, customers that go into a store or office for an appointment are considered invitees. The occupier or owner is most responsible for invitees. It is their responsibility to keep their place of business safe for customers. This includes warning them of dangerous conditions that aren’t obvious to invitees. All necessary maintenance and care must also be performed, along with regular inspections to find hazardous situations. The owner or occupier isn’t required to warn if the danger is obvious enough for the invitee to see.
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A licensee is an individual that enters onto a property after receiving expressed or implied permission of the occupier or owner, but for his or her own benefits, not the property owner’s. For example, a social guest is considered a licensee. Like with invitees, it is required of the owner or occupier to warn licensees of any known dangerous conditions or risks. The owner or occupier isn’t required to inspect the property for dangers and risks or repair conditions that are found. However, they are required to take all reasonable precautions or actions to protect licensees from harm from hazards that are known to be on the property.
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A trespasser is an individual who was given no authority to enter onto the premises. He or she enters onto a property without the expressed or implied permission of the occupier or owner. In this case, the owner or occupier isn’t held liable for the trespasser, if it is unknown that they were on the property. Once they do know, it is their duty to take all ordinary precautions to let the trespasser aware or take steps to nullify conditions that are known that could hurt or kill the trespasser. If an owner or occupier finds out that trespassers regularly enter their property and someone gets injured due to unsafe or negligent actions, then the owner or occupier is liable. Plus the following must be true:
1. The owner or occupier maintained or created the unsafe condition.
2. The conditions could potentially cause serious injury or death.
3. The owner or occupier didn’t take reasonable care to warn or notify the trespassers of the present danger or hazardous situation.
The rules change when it comes to child trespassers. In injury cases involving child trespassers, the owner or occupier of the property is responsible to take all precautions to prevent any foreseeable harm from coming to the children due to created conditions. A lot of children aren’t always aware of potential dangers and may even want to explore certain areas like heavy machinery or pools. These are known as attractive nuisances and should be addressed by the occupier or owner as soon as he or she learns of them.
In order to prove that the owner or occupier was negligent in his or her duty, evidence must show the following:
1. There was a dangerous or harmful condition that the occupier or owner should have known about.
2. The owner or occupier knows that children trespass near such conditions or should know.
3. The child trespassers weren’t able to understand or see the dangerous situation.
4. It was cheaper to repair or change the dangerous condition than for the actual danger itself.
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If you’ve been injured while on someone else’s property, you could potentially seek recovery from the occupier or owner. However, this is dependent upon whether you were an invitee, trespasser or licensee. Your classification will play a part in how your case is handled. It’s a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney to go over your case.