If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may think you have a slam dunk case. It’s their property, so it’s their job to prevent you from getting injured on it, right? Unfortunately, when you are injured on someone else’s property you don’t automatically have a winning case against them. Suing for injuries on others’ property requires taking a number of factors into consideration. Here’s what you need to think about.
Why Were You On the Property?
It may sound strange, but the reason that you were on the property can make a big difference. Most lawsuits for injuries occurring on another’s property are brought using a negligence claim, which requires proving that the property owner owed you a duty of care. Property owners owe different duties of care to people who are on their property for different reasons.
The highest duty of care is owed to a group of people referred to as “licensees.” In layman’s terms, these are people who enter the property of another with the owner’s permission or privilege. For example, if you are the social guest of a property owner, like attending a party on the property or staying the night there, you would be considered a licensee. Property owners must warn licensees of concealed dangers on the property that they know about or that should be obvious to them. They must also use reasonable care in conducting activities on their land that could harm a licensee.
The second-highest duty of care is owed to a group of people referred to as “invitees.” Invitees are people whom the property owner invites to enter their land for businesses purposes. For example, if you were contracted by a homeowner to renovate or paint their home, you would be considered an invitee. Unlike with licensees, property owners do not need to warn invitees about dangerous conditions, but they do have a duty to inspect and discover dangerous conditions on their property, such as exposed wiring or hidden holes on their land.
The lowest duty of care is owed to trespassers. Generally, property owners cannot use reckless or intentional misconduct towards trespassers, such as setting traps that might harm them. If a property owner has reason to know that trespassers are on or frequently use their property, they have a duty to warn those trespassers about concealed, dangerous, or artificial conditions. For example, if a property owner uses their land for hunting and finds evidence that people routinely cut across their property, they likely have a duty to post signs saying “Warning: hunting occurring on property! Use caution!” However, if a property owner has no reason to suspect that trespassers are or have been on their property, they generally owe no duty to trespassers.
Who Owns the Property?
Another important factor is whether the property is owned or rented. If it is rented, you may be able to hold a landlord liable if the injury occurred in a common area, such as the lobby of an apartment building.
Injured on Someone Else’s Property?
If you were injured on someone else’s property, you should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss your options. Contact Scaffidi & Associates today to learn what steps you can take to get the compensation you deserve.
Posted in: Personal Injury Law