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When are Property Owners Liable For Accidents?

Posted on behalf of Michael D'Amico of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jul 23, 2014 in Premises Liability

Getting injured is never convenient. However, finding out that the injury-causing incident could have been prevented understandably adds a layer of frustration. This may be the experience for those who are injured as the result of negligence on the part of property owners.

There is any number of scenarios in which a person spends time on another party's property. Generally speaking, the owners have a duty of care to those who enter their property. This means taking steps to secure and maintain the premises in order to prevent unnecessary harm.

Property owners' duty of care serves as the basis for premises liability claims for injuries. However, there are certain circumstances in which property owners aren't responsible for any injuries on their turf.

Determining liability for accidents on property is in large part based on the property owner’s relationship to the injured individual. Generally speaking, there are three different types of visitors: invitees, licensees and trespassers.

Invitees and licensees are the two types of visitors who have permission to be on another's property. Invitees are welcomed onto property usually for business or commercial purposes. In other words, a customer at a grocery store would be considered an invitee. On the other hand, licensees are visitors for their own purposes, rather than commercial dealings. A social guest would fall into this category. Property owners have a duty of care to these individuals, and can be held liable for any negligence that contributes to these parties' injuries.

Property owners are generally not liable for injuries suffered by trespassers, however. The duty of care is voided for those who enter property without permission. A notable exception to this rule usually applies to children who are injured on property. Even if a child is considered a trespasser at the time of injury, owners may still be responsible.

Of course, the details of every case are different, as accident victims attempt to define their relationship to property owners and the duty of care that is owed. Insight into this aspect of personal injury law can give accident victims a clearer view of their way forward.