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How does a person’s status affect a premises liability claim?

On Behalf of | Sep 14, 2018 | Firm News, Premises Liability Claims

When a person in Georgia is at a store, at a friend’s house or is even trespassing, they generally expect that the property will be safe. However, safety is no guarantee, and sometimes a dangerous condition on the property causes a person to suffer harm. The liability of the property owner in such situations will depend on the status of the injured party.

Under Georgia Code §51-3-1 through §51-3-3, when a person known as an invitee is on another’s property through the express or implied invitation of the property owner, or if the property owner induces or leads another person onto his or her property for any legal purpose, the property owner may be held liable for any injuries the person suffered if the property owner failed to exercise ordinary care in making sure that the property was safe. Store patrons are an example of an invitee.

If a person known as a licensee is on another’s property, the property owner is only liable should the licensee be harmed on the premises through willful or wanton injuries. Therefore, the property owner must exercise enough care to keep people on their property from being injured from dangerous conditions the property owner knows or should know about. Licensees are neither patrons, nor servants, nor trespassers. They have no contractual relationship with the property owner, and they are allowed, either implicitly or expressly, to be on the property simply for their own gratification. Social guests are an example of a licensee.

Finally, if a person is a trespasser on another’s property, the possessor of the property does not have a duty of care towards the trespasser, with the exception that they cannot cause a willful or wanton injury. Trespassers are on a person’s property without permission and for the trespasser’s own benefit.

As this shows, the type of person on the premises dictates the duty of care the property owner has to keep these people safe. Determining what “ordinary care” means or what conditions a property owner “should” know about is not always clear-cut. Therefore, those who have been injured on another person’s property and are wondering whether they have grounds to pursue a premises liability claim may want to seek legal advice so they can make informed decisions moving forward. This could help the injured party seek compensation for his or her losses.