Serving The Injured In New York And Pennsylvania

What duty of care do property owners owe to visitors?

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Personal Injury

Property owners have a duty of care to make sure their premises are safe for those who enter. However, the level of care a property owner must take will depend on the status of the visitor entering their property.

There are three main types of visitors:

  • Invitees: Invited onto a property by the property owner for business purposes (business invitees) or onto a public property as a member of the public (public invitee). For example, customers at a store are business invitees, as they were implicitly invited into the store to shop.
  • Licensees or social guests: Invited onto someone else’s property for their own benefit or reasons unrelated to business. For example, a homeowner may invite their friend over for dinner and socialization.
  • Trespassers: Entered onto another person’s property without permission from the owner of the property.

What is the duty of care owed to each type of visitor?

Property owners in New York and Pennsylvania owe the highest level of care to invitees, and the lowest level of care to trespassers. Generally, here is the duty of care owed to each type of visitor:

  • Licensees: Property owners are required to take reasonable care to warn or protect licensees from a known hazard on the property that the licensee is unlikely to find on their own. However, the property owner does not have an obligation to conduct inspections to locate dangerous conditions on the property or address the hazards.
  • Invitees: Property owners must take reasonable care to inspect their property and maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition for invitees. The property owner must warn invitees of hazards they knew of or should have known of or take reasonable steps to address those hazards.
  • Trespassers: Unlike invitees and licensees, trespassers have broken the law by entering someone else’s property without permission. Therefore, property owners do not owe a trespasser much care. But they must refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring a trespasser. Additionally, if they are aware of frequent trespassers on the property, they may be required to exercise reasonable care to warn the trespassers of any danger on the property.

Before you file a personal injury claim after a slip-and-fall accident, make sure that you are aware of the duty of care owed to you by the property owner of the property where the accident occurred.