Missouri & Illinois Premises Liability Attorneys
Owners and occupiers of land have certain duties that require them to make sure people who visit their property remain safe. Sometimes, land owners fail to use the care required of them, and people are injured. This can be slipping and falling on something wet on the floor of a restaurant; tripping over an improperly maintained large display at a hardware store, like bags of fertilizer that slide out into the aisle of a Home Depot; or a landlord who fails to repair a set of crumbling steps, despite a tenants complaints. If you have been injured in a situation like these, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.
Invitees, licensees, and trespassers
The duty owed by a land owner to protect people who come onto his land depends on why the person is there. Generally speaking, people fall into one of three categories: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. “Invitees” are probably the most common category of people. A person is considered an invitee if they enter another’s property with permission, and there is some benefit to the landowner, or both the landowner and the person coming onto the land. If you go into a store or restaurant that is open for business to the general public, you are generally considered to be an invitee. You, the invitee, get the benefit of a good or service from the store, and the store gets a benefit in the form of payment when you are there.
A licensee is a somewhat different. A licensee is someone who comes onto the land of another with permission, but their presence doesn’t afford the landowner any kind of benefit. For example, if you are invited by a friend to come over to their house, you are a social guest and generally considered to be a licensee under the common law. In invitee can become a licensee if they exceed the scope of their invitation. For example, if you are shopping at a grocery store – something open to members of the general public – but then go into the grocery store’s stock room which is off limits to patrons, then you have exceeded the scope of your invitation. In even more severe cases, you can exceed the scope of the invitation so drastically, that you become a part of the next category, a trespasser.
The final category, trespassers, is a distinction most people are familiar with. Someone who knowingly enters the property of another, without permission, is considered a trespasser. This is assuming the property itself isn’t generally held open to the public in general, like a city park, for instance. However, it is possible to still trespass on public property. If a park, for example, closes at sunset, even though it is otherwise open to the public, exceeding the scope of the use can still be trespassing.
A landowner’s duty to make property safe
The duty owed by and landowner to keep someone safe who comes onto his land changes depending on the status of the visitor. In the example of the invitee, like when you go to the grocery store, the landowner is required to use “ordinary care” to protect visitors from unreasonable risks of harm. For example, if there is a spill on the floor of a hardware store, like the previous Home Depot example, and that store’s employees walk past it for half an hour without cleaning it up and someone slips, they have failed to use ordinary care to protect shoppers. For licensees, a landowner is required to make sure visitors are protected from risks of harm that they wouldn’t otherwise discover on their own. In other words, if you visit a friend at their house, and they know that there is a loose board on a step that otherwise looks fine, they have a duty to warn you about the dangers of that step. Generally speaking, a landowner has no duty to protect adult trespassers from harm which occurs on their land. There are a few exceptions which relate to children and repeated trespasses, but they are narrowly applied.
What about rented property?
The relationship between a landlord and his tenant creates special duties and responsibilities. Generally, the landlord is responsible for everything outside the apartment or rented house itself. This includes areas like common stairwells, hallways, and sidewalks. Landlords are also typically responsible for “permanent” objects in the rented property, like floors, walls, and appliances which the tenant did not install themselves. In most cases, the tenant is responsible for his or her own things inside the apartment in the event that they cause an injury to someone else. It is important to note that while a landlord may be responsible for harms caused by one of the “permanent” objects inside the rented space, if the tenant fails to report that there is a problem to their landlord, the tenant may be liable for any injuries that harm caused.
What Our Clients Have To Say
The attorneys at Keane Law are committed to ensuring our clients’ voices are heard. Whether we are representing one client in a personal injury case or fighting for many in a class action, we always have their best interests in mind. But don’t take our word for it. Here are a few testimonials from some of our clients.