Midland Premises Liability Lawyers

Premises liability is an important subset of tort law because people frequently occupy land that they do not own. Injuries are inevitable, and it is important to understand the legal consequences of property ownership in the case of injuries.

Status-based Classifications:

Generally, a landowner's duty to persons occupying her property depends on the status of the visitor. Not all jurisdictions maintain these classifications, but those that do value predictability of the categorization.

These categories are important from the get-go: if a defendant can successfully convince a judge that he did not owe a plaintiff a duty to protect against the harm that occurred, the judge will dismiss the case on the pleadings. Otherwise, the case will typically go to a jury.

Invitee: Invitees are those invited onto land for primarily business or economic purposes. Owners must have an interest in the invitee’s visit. Typically, this interest is pecuniary, such as when a person walks into a department store. It is important to read this status broadly. An actual intent to perform the activity desired by the owner may not be required.

An invitee will have reason to expect that the premises have been made safe, thus a landowner has a duty to protect invitees against known dangers and those that would be uncovered by reasonable inspections.

Licensee: Licensees are typically those who are welcomed on the premises, but not for the purposes for which the premises may be held open to the public. Social guests are most often licensees. A landowner or occupier has a duty to protect licensees from known dangers. A licensee is expected to take the owner's land as the owner takes it himself.

Trespassers: Trespassers are those who enter or remain on land unwelcome. Landowners generally owe no duty to trespassers, save for cases in which the conduct was willful or wanton.

However, when a landowner is aware or should be aware that his land is often trespassed upon, he may have a duty to protect or warn against known dangers on the premises.

Open and Obvious Exception: In some jurisdictions, dangers that are open and obvious may result in no-duty rulings because the danger was apparent to the plaintiff. The idea is that the plaintiff should have been aware of the danger, and if he encounters it, he has assumed the risk. Other jurisdictions allow this to mitigate damages based on comparative fault principles.

Different Test: Some courts have abolished these classifications in favor of a more simple test, reasoning that an entrant’s status should not determine the duty owed to him. These jurisdictions impose a standard of reasonable care for all visitors. Cases in these jurisdictions are more likely to see a jury.

In deciding whether the landowner has violated the duty of care, juries can consider the foreseeability of the harm, the purpose for which the entrant is on the land, the use to which the premises are put or expected to be put, the reasonableness of inspection or repair, and any warning on the part of the owner.

To get a free consultation with our Midland premises liability attorneys, chat or call 800-863-5312 today.