A friend comes over to your house and slips on a patch of ice while walking up your driveway. In another incident, a trespasser sneaks into your backyard, falls down a hill and breaks an arm. Are you, as a property owner, responsible for either of these incidents?
Under premises liability law, property owners have a duty to avoid exposing people to an unreasonable risk of harm due to a natural or artificial condition. The law states that if the property owner should be aware of the risk and does not remedy the situation in a timely manner, then he or she could be considered negligent and potentially held liable in a lawsuit requesting compensation for damages.
What is Considered Negligence?
Negligence occurs when ordinary care has not been exercised, and the duty has been breached. In determining whether or not a property owner is negligent, the courts will consider whether or not a reasonable person should have had foreseen that the situation would have caused an increased risk of harm.
As a condition of land ownership, a property owner must also maintain the property regularly. Property must be properly inspected and maintained on a regular basis so that any potentially harmful situations can be remedied quickly. If there are harmful conditions on the property, warning signs should be posted to guests and others who may use the property.
But not all premises liability cases may be the fault of the property owner. If signs are posted warning guests of the dangerous condition, but the guest ignores the signs and gets injured anyway, the property owner may not be held liable.
Types of Guests Can Determine Premise Liability
The degree of duty that is required of you depends on the type of person who enters your property. As a property owner, there are three types of people who may access your land:
- Invitees. These are guests that the property owners have invited into the property. As such, invitees require the highest level of care and must be warned about dangerous conditions that exist.
- Licensees. Licensees are not personally invited onto the land, but they are allowed to enter it to perform work duties. Licensees applies to service people and delivery drivers. These people need to be made aware of dangerous situation on the property, but once the licensees are warned, the property owner is not liable for any injuries.
- Trespassers. Trespassers are those who enter the property without legal justification or consent from the property owner. Trespassers require the lowest degree of duty from the property owner. The property owner must avoid willful misconduct, which means gross misconduct or intentional infliction of harm.
Get Legal Help from a Brooklyn Premises Liability Attorney
As a property owner, you have a duty to keep your property safe for those who step foot onto it. If a person is injured on your property, you could be held liable for any damages.
Responsibilities vary from one area to another, so make sure you understand the laws that apply to you. Get help from The Law Office of Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum. Schedule a consultation by calling our Brooklyn office at (718) 237-5586.