How Visitor Status Affects Duty of Care in Premises Liability Claims
During your free initial consultation, one of our Port St. Lucie premises liability attorneys will ask you a series of questions to determine if you have grounds for a claim. Ultimately, we’ll be trying to find out whether the three elements of a successful claim exist: negligence, causation, and damages.
Property owners and possessors are considered negligent when they breach the duty of care owed to visitors. They can also be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees. For example, if the staff at a grocery store failed to place a warning sign over a freshly mopped floor and somebody slipped, their employer might be held vicariously liable for any resulting damages.
It’s important to note, however, that the duty of care owed to you at the time of your injury depends on your visitor status—i.e. whether you were an invitee, invited licensee, uninvited licensee, or trespasser. Below is a brief overview of each category:
- Invitee: Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. An invitee can be either a “public invitee” or a “business invitee.” A public invitee is a person who was invited to enter or to remain on public land, such as a public hospital or park, but not for the economic benefit of the property owner. A business invitee is someone who was invited to enter or to remain on a site for business dealings with the property owner or possessor. Most premises liability cases involve business invitees. Property owners and possessors owe a duty of care to invitees to remedy dangerous conditions in a reasonable amount of time and to warn invitees about such conditions. There are many circumstances that might constitute a breach of this duty of care; examples include failing to keep grocery store aisles free of clutter, failing to implement adequate security measures, and failing to perform reasonable maintenance on the property.
- Licensee: A licensee can be either "invited" or "uninvited." A person is considered an invited licensee if he or she was invited to the site—for example, as a social guest of the landowner. Property owners owe the same duty of care to invited licensees as they do to invitees. An uninvited licensee is someone who entered a property for their own convenience without either express or implied invitation, such as a solicitor who knocks on a door. Although property owners have a duty not to cause willful or wanton injury to uninvited licensees, they don't have to abide by the same standards of care that would be owed to invitees or invited licensees.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who enters a property without license, invitation, or other right to be on the property. Although property owners owe the lowest duty of care to trespassers, they must still refrain from causing willful or wanton injury. There are certain nuances that apply to cases involving child trespassers. If your child was injured on someone else's property as a trespasser, our Port St. Lucie premises liability lawyers can help you determine if you have grounds for a claim.