When you own a home, there is an expectation that you will keep the property reasonably safe for anyone who enters it. Failing to adequately meet this expectation could create a dangerous environment that causes a personal injury. And from a personal injury could come a premises liability lawsuit. The first step to understanding premises liability for homeowners is to recognize the three categories of visitors that come onto any given property. Knowing which category an injured party falls under will determine what legal action an injured visitor can take and what types of damages they can pursue against you as a property owner.
The three categories are:
- Licensee: A licensee is any social visitor that you have invited onto your property. You may have extended the invitation outright, or you may have implied the invitation; either way, you welcomed the visitor onto your privately owned space. You have an unspoken duty to provide a reasonable level of safety to a licensee, and if you breach this duty and the visitor is injured as a result, you could be held legally liable for damages.
- Business Invitee: A business invitee is any employee or contractor of a commercial enterprise that you let onto your property to perform specific work. Premises liability laws hold business invitees in the highest regard, and such guests must be accommodated in all reasonable and logical ways. The property is expected to be safe and free from danger; failing to provide this standard means you could be sued if a business invitee is injured on your property.
- Trespasser: A trespasser is someone who has come onto your property without your authorization. Because you have not agreed to their presence or extended an invitation, a trespasser typically cannot sue you in a premises liability case if they sustain an injury on your property. In the eyes of the law, anyone who was not expressly invited onto your premises is considered a trespasser—they do not have to necessarily be on your property to commit a crime.
If you're being sued in a premises liability matter, or you yourself have been injured in such a case, trust Stephen B. Kaufman, P.C., for the quality legal support you deserve. For more than four decades, he has been representing the Bronx, New York, clients in accident and injury cases. Call (718) 822-0500, visit his website, or message him on Facebook or Twitter to arrange a consultation with a lawyer today.