Claims for injuries that happened on someone else's property are called premises liability cases, as they involve the liability of the owner of the premises on which you are injured. Premises liability cases are based on negligence; to win a premises liability case, the injured person must prove the property owner was negligent regarding ownership or maintenance of the property. Generally, negligence means the property owner didn't use reasonable care regarding the property.
But, being injured on someone else's property does not mean the property owner was negligent. And, even if the property was in an unsafe condition, it does not mean the property owner was negligent. You must show the property owner knew or should reasonably have known about the unsafe condition on the property that injured you and still failed to fix the unsafe condition in a reasonable time.
There are many types of premises liability cases, like:
- When you slip and fall on some condition on the property
- If you are injured by a hidden defect on the property
- Inadequate building security leading to injury or assault
- Elevator and escalator accidents
- Dog bites
- Swimming pool accidents
- Amusement park accidents
- Water leaks or flooding
- Toxic fumes or chemicals
These are just examples; there are many other situations where persons can be injured on someone else's property.
So, what are property owners' duty of care toward persons injured on a property? This usually falls into one of the three categories:
If the property owner invited someone to enter the premises, that person is an invitee. This invitation may be explicit or simply implied. Friends, neighbors and family members are a few common examples of people who may be invitees. Property owners must keep the premises reasonably safe for invitees.
When someone has implied or explicit permission to be on the property, but they are visiting for their own reasons, they are a licensee. For example, sales consultants or door-to-door fundraising volunteers may be licensees. Property owners primarily need to warn licensees of dangerous conditions if the owner knows about the hazard but the licensee probably would not discover it.
However, a trespasser is someone who does not have permission to enter the property. Although property owners do not need to protect most trespassers from hazards, they do need to protect child trespassers. For example, a property owner with a swimming pool in their yard should take reasonable steps to prevent neighborhood children from potentially drowning or slipping if they trespass.