A property owner can be held liable for injuries that occur on his or her property. An injured visitor may be able to bring a personal injury lawsuit.
Liability is based on the idea that a landowner has a duty to uphold a certain standard of care for visitors. When the landowner’s actions fall below that standard of care, then the law will find that he "breached" his duty.
The standard of care that a landowner must uphold varies from state to state. In general, a landowner is simply required to act as a reasonable, prudent person. However, many states complicate this rule by adding that the exact standard of care is determined by the status of the visitor. For example, an invited guest must be treated with a higher level of care than a random trespasser.
When social guests are invited onto your property, you have a duty to warn your guests about any hidden dangerous. However, beyond warning, there is no duty to inspect for defects or even repair known defects.
The highest duty is owed to those whom you invite to your premises: business customers or individuals visiting public places such as museums or libraries. In addition to warning about any dangers, the owner has a duty to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions, and then make the conditions safe.
Typically, a landowner cannot be sued by an undiscovered trespasser. However, if a landowner should be able to reasonably anticipate that trespassers will enter his property, then he has a duty to warn against any hidden artificial conditions that might cause injuries or death.
There is also a special standard of care owed to trespassing children who may enter the premises without any invitation or permission. The premises owner has a duty to exercise reasonable care to protect children from foreseeable risks of harm caused by artificial conditions on the property. In the law, this rule is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine.
As a property owner, you should always be vigilant to ensure that no one is injured on your property. If you own a business or if trespassers frequently come to your property, you may wish to speak to a premises liability lawyer to help you address any future risks of liability. If someone has been injured on your property and brings a legal claim against you, you should consult with a qualified personal injury lawyer immediately.
Last Modified: 04-11-2018 06:09 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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