When are property owners liable for visitors’ injuries in Connecticut?

The liability of property owners for injuries that visitors suffer can depend on the reason for the visit, the causes of the injury and the victim’s age.

Under Connecticut law, property owners have a responsibility to keep their buildings and land in safe condition. When people in Bridgeport suffer harm because property owners fail in this duty, they may have grounds for seeking recompense through premises liability claims. However, to establish that a property owner was negligent, victims must first prove that the case meets several criteria.

Allowing dangerous conditions

First, victims must show that a property owner did not take reasonable measures to keep his or her land safe. These measures include the following actions:

  • Conducting activities on the property in a safe manner
  • Warning visitors of potential undiscovered hazards
  • Performing necessary maintenance to eliminate any known threats
  • Completing regular property inspections to identify new hazards

If a property owner could not have easily discovered a hazard by taking reasonable precautions, he or she may not be considered liable for any associated injuries.

Injuries to legitimate visitors

Victims must also show that they were owed a duty of care based on their status as visitors to the property. Property owners owe the highest duty of care to people who they invite onto their property. Owners may be found liable if they don't take all of the steps listed above to protect invitees from a variety of potential threats, including dog bites or attacks, trips, falls and drowning.

Property owners owe a lesser duty to licensees, or people who have permission to be on their property. Under Connecticut law, licensees accept a risk of injury when visiting the property of others, and they may not hold a property owner responsible if they suffer injuries due to obvious hazards. However, owners do have a legal duty to protect licensees from hidden hazards that they know about, either by removing those hazards or by warning the licensees.

Inadequate care toward trespassers

Trespassers may also be able to seek recompense from property owners in a few cases. Property owners don't have a duty to keep their property safe for trespassers, but an owner may be found liable if he or she deliberately creates or maintains a hazard that is hidden and likely to seriously harm a trespasser. Trespassers typically don't have recourse if an owner provides a warning about one of these hazards, however.

Property owners also can be held liable for injuries to a trespassing child, and the legal standards that apply to these cases are unique. If a property owner fails to address a known hazard that children are likely to encounter, and the hazard has potential to cause serious injury or death, the owner may be found liable. In these cases, the risks that a hazard poses must significantly outweigh the difficulty that would be associated with eliminating the hazard.

Holding property owners accountable

As these considerations show, proving that a property owner is liable for hazardous conditions and any related injuries may be challenging for many victims. Therefore, these individuals may benefit from meeting with an attorney to evaluate their rights and options. An attorney may be able to help a person document any failings on the part of a property owner and seek fair recourse for any resulting injuries.