The term “premises liability” refers to the liability of certain persons for injuries and damages to others arising from the ownership or possession of real property. Premises liability actions have traditionally involved “slip and fall” or “trip and fall” accidents. Premises liability is not, however, limited to only such types of accidents and includes, among other things, construction accidents, dog bite cases, lead poisoning, faulty wiring, defective and/or inoperative lighting, swimming pool accidents, failure to warn of hazardous conditions, and injuries caused by the negligent or willful conduct of third persons on the premises involved such as inadequate security at a bar, apartment complex, or a nursing home.
In determining who is liable in a premises liability action, the crucial elements are ownership, possession, and control of the premises. The person who owns, possesses, or controls the premises is the one potentially responsible for any injuries arising from a condition of the premises.
The landowner’s or occupier’s duty to others differs based on the status of the visitor. There are three different legal types of visitors and the degree of responsibility owed by the owner / occupier varies according to the status of the injured person. Generally, the three types of visitors and the corresponding duties are:
- Invitees or business visitors: An invitee is a visitor who is invited or permitted to enter or remain on the land of another for the purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings between such person and the owner or possessor of the land. The term “invitee” may be misleading because a social guest may be invited, but is still considered to be a licensee (see below). The distinguishing characteristic of an invitee is a mutual business interest with the occupant of the premises, while a licensee is on the premises for his or her own purpose. A landowner owes an invitee the highest duty of care to make the premises safe. This duty generally entails inspection, repair, and warning.
- Licensees: A licensee is a person who comes onto the land of another by consent or permission, but for his or her own purpose having no relation to the business of the owner or occupant. A landowner has no duty to licensees to inspect and/or repair the premises but he or she must warn licensees of known dangerous conditions that a licensee is unlikely to know of or discover.
- Trespassers: A trespasser is a person who enters or remains on the land of another without permission to do so. Generally, a landowner owes no duty to unanticipated trespassers however, once a landowner has some reason to anticipate trespassers the duty increases. For example, if there is something on a piece of land that will attract children a landowner has reason to anticipate child trespassers.
As with all lawsuits there is a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the time period fixed by law within which a lawsuit must be commenced. In Texas the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of the incident, while in Missouri it is typically five years and in some scenarios only three years. After that time period, an individual who has suffered injuries because of the negligent manner in which another maintained his or her property is prohibited from seeking compensation for injuries sustained. Therefore, if you suspect that you or a loved one has been injured because of the negligent manner in which another maintained his or her property, it is critical to seek the advice of a lawyer to be certain that your action is brought within the time period mandated by law.
If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property contact the experienced aggressive legal professionals at the Law Offices of Roderick C. White for a comprehensive professional evaluation of your case.