When determining who is responsible for an accident on a piece of business or personal property, the first thing that you have to look at is the legal status of the visitor to that property. There are four statuses that people might hold, including the invitee, licensee, social guest or trespasser.
Businesses and property owners owe the most care to those who are invited to their properties. Invitees fall into this category and include people like customers or dinner guests invited to stay at a home. Business and property owners owe the least care to those who are trespassing on a property. Those people have no right to be on the property, but there is still an expectation that the property will be reasonably safe if trespassing is expected.
Are there special rules for children?
Yes. Whether you’re a business or property owner, there are special rules in place for children. If you are a landowner, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you give adequate warning of dangerous conditions on your property if children could be present, particularly when those dangerous conditions could lead to death or serious injury. This falls under the “attractive nuisance” doctrine.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, you need to warn people of danger if there is anything interesting on the property that could entice children to enter. Typical attractive nuisances include:
- Dangerous animals, which may include dogs
- Tree houses
…as well as other attractions that children may want to explore.
What can property owners do to protect themselves?
If you are a property owner, it’s important that you take steps to minimize the risk of injuries to others. Repairing damage, such as repairing cracks in sidewalks, and correcting hazards like ice on stairways, will help minimize the risk of a claim being filed against you.
If someone does get hurt on your property, you should take steps to get them medical attention as soon as possible. You have an obligation to provide care or to call for assistance if a child is injured on your property, too. Take action to make your property safer. Post warnings, and be ready to take steps to seek help if someone is hurt. If you are hurt on someone else’s property, remember that you can make a claim to seek compensation for any injuries suffered.