The ability to collect for a premises injury depends on whether you are an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
An invitee is someone on the property, for the benefit of the owner/possessor, or for the mutual benefit of the owner, and the invitee.
Owner/possessors owe invitees a high degree of care. First, they owe the duty to maintain the property in reasonably safe condition. They must also use reasonable care to protect an invitee from risks known or knowable to the possessor. They must also warn of dangers they know of, except those which are “open and obvious”. Finally, owner/possessors are required to inspect the premises, in order to discover possible hazards, they may not know about.
Licensees are typically social guests, there for a purpose other than business.
Owner/possessors owe licensees a lesser range of duties. They are liable only when three conditions are present:
- the owner/possessor should have known of the danger, and should have expected that the licensee would not have discovered the danger;
- the owner failed to use reasonable condition to make the condition safe, or to warn the licensee about it; and
- the licensee did not know or have reason to know of the hazard.
Trespassers are those who enter another’s property, without the property owner’s consent.
There is almost no duty owed to a trespasser, though in some very limited instances, even a trespasser can collect damages for injuries.