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Landowner Liability

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When Can I Be Sued as a Landowner?

As an owner or possessor of land, you have the duty to take precautions for dangerous conditions on the property. Failure to take reasonable and adequate precautions may result in liability for any harm and injuries incurred by people as a result. This liability depends on how people who are on or using your property are categorized. These categories are: 

  • Trespassers
  • Licensees
  • Invitees

What Duties Do I Owe Trespassers?

Trespassers are individuals who enter your property without any rights or permissions.  You have: 

  • No duties to trespassers you're unaware of; and
  • A duty to warn or make safe concealed dangerous conditions to trespassers you are aware of or tolerate.

However, special duties apply to child trespassers according to the attractive nuisance doctrine.  Landowners must take special precautions to prevent harm to child trespassers.  An example would be a swing on a tree which would attract children to use it.  The landowner must make sure the swing is safe because it is likely to attract children.

What Duties Do I Owe Licensees?

Licensees have a special permission to do something on, or with, somebody else's property.  Licensees usually are social guests.  A common example is allowing a person to walk across your lawn that, if it were not for the license, would otherwise constitute a trespass. You have: 

  • A duty to warn licensees of concealed dangerous conditions; and
  • A duty to exercise reasonable care in the conduct of operations.

What Duties Do I Owe Invitees?

An invitee is one who has permission to enter or use another's premise, either as a business visitor or as a member of the public to whom the premises are held open.  You have: 

  • A duty to inspect the premises; and
  • A duty to warn the invitee of any risks or non-obvious dangerous conditions.

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Property Injury Case?

The outcome of a personal injury case can turn on how the person injured on your property is categorized.  Whether you are suing for injuries or being sued, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine how property laws affect your case.  A personal injury lawyer can also help you with any necessary paperwork and represent you in court.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-28-2018 05:35 PM PDT

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