When one is injured while at the property of another, injured in a department store, or another type of property, a premise liability case arises. Premises liability refers to the legal responsibility that the property owner has towards anyone who is injured on the premises. Premise liability laws are implemented to give injured persons the right to file a claim against negligent proprietors. It makes the proprietor liable for injuries sustained by persons present on the property. To understand how these laws apply, it would help to know who are considered possessors of property and who the victims are.
Under the law, a person is deemed the possessor of the premises when he:
In most jurisdictions, it is essential to determine if the plaintiff was a “licensee”, an “invitee” or a “trespasser”. The defendant’s liability varies depending on how the victim is classified.
As the name suggests, an invitee is a person invited to enter or remain in the premises for the commercial benefit of the possessor of the premises. An invitation could either be expressed or implied. Among all present in the premises, the owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee. For instance, an owner of the department store is responsible for the injuries sustained by a shopper. A possessor is duty bound to protect an invitee from risks of harm from the dangerous conditions of their property if:
Consequently, the possessor is responsible to occasionally inspect the premises for any hazards.
A licensee is someone who is invited to enter or remain on the property for purposes other than business. A social guest is considered a licensee. When a licensee is injured, the possessor of the premises is liable only if the following elements are present:
A person who enters the premises of another without an expressed or implied invitation and for one’s personal purpose is called a trespasser. In entering the premises, the trespasser need not have an unlawful intent. Since the owner is not aware of the presence of the trespasser, he could not possibly inform him of the dangerous condition of the premises. In case the owner knows of the trespasser’s presence, only the exercise of ordinary care is expected from him. Hence, before a victim could pursue a premise liability claim, he should identify under what category he belongs to. The law could be confusing but a premise liability attorney could help.