Our readers in Connecticut who have seen previous posts here probably remember that when an injury occurs on another person’s property the area of law that will come into play is known as “premises liability” law. This is an area of the law that falls under the umbrella of “tort” law. When an injury occurs on a person’s property, how the visitor — the person who was injured — was categorized under premises liability law will be a major factor in determining whether or not compensation can be sought.
There are four different categories of visitors under premises liability law: trespasser, licensee, social guest or invitee. An “invitee” is someone who has been extended an invitation to visit the property in question. For instance, customers at shopping malls, retail stores and grocery stores are invitees because they are invited to come into those locations to shop for goods. When a property owner invites someone, or the public in general, to their property, there is an assumption that the property is in a reasonably safe condition. For example, it is assumed that there are no spills that haven’t been cleaned up, there is no ice on the sidewalks and that there is adequate security at the location.
Our readers can probably guess what a “social guest” is under premises liability law. A social guest is someone who is allowed on the property — indeed, the person is welcome to visit. A “licensee” can be a bit more complicated. A licensee is someone who has permission to be on the property, but they are there for their own reasons. The property owner has consented to the presence of the licensee on the property.
Lastly, a “trespasser,” as our readers can imagine, does not have permission to be on the property. However, that doesn’t mean that sometimes a property owner does not have a duty in regards to their land when it comes to trespassers. For instance, the property owner cannot set traps on their land with the reasonable expectation that a trespasser might enter the land and be caught in the traps.
As this shows, the reason a person is on another person’s property makes a difference in what the property owner’s duties are. This can be a complex area of law, however, so if you were injured on another person’s property, you might want to seek legal advice.