If you own or control property, you owe your visitors a duty of care, and a breach of such duty may form the basis of a premise liability lawsuit. This means that you are legally obligated to provide a safe environment to visitors on your premises by either fixing the potential hazard or providing a reasonable warning of its existence.
Failure to do this may mean negligence on your part, and the victim of your injuries may claim compensation for their injuries.
To whom do you owe a duty of care?
Depending on the status of the visitor, the duty of care owed varies as outlined below. There are three types of visitors with different degrees of care owed to them.
- These are people who enter your premises, either by your direct or implied invitation, to conduct business or engage in activity connected to your premises. For instance, if a person walks into a supermarket to buy something, you owe them a duty of care and should safeguard them from harm that may occur within your premises.
- These are visitors who come to your premises for their interest. A friend who stops by unannounced to check on you is a licensee, and the duty of care owed is less compared to an invitee. You will only be liable if you knew that a hazard existed, which they were not aware of yet you did nothing to avert the risk.
- These are visitors to your premises who are not permitted or have no legal right to be there. Generally, you owe trespassers the least duty of care, and, in most instances, you are not liable for their injuries. However, there are exceptions, especially where children are involved. In addition, you are not supposed to willfully harm the trespasser unless you are protecting yourself or your property.
There is more to premise liability, and it is necessary to look out for your rights either as a property owner or as a visitor. Knowing what the law says will put you in a better position regarding what to expect from such an incident.