There are laws in place in California and elsewhere that protect the safety of visitors when they are on another person’s property. There are several legal terms that refer to a visitor’s status, such as invitee, social guest or trespasser. A property owner, landlord or tenant could be held accountable financially if their negligence results in injury to a visitor. This complicated area of the law is known as premises liability.
In addition to a property owner, a resident is obligated to ensure the safety of visitors. However, in the case of a trespasser, someone who has entered a property without consent and has no right to be there, an obligation to ensure safety only exists with respect to willful or wanton misconduct or entrapment. A licensee is an individual at a property for personal reasons, albeit with the consent of the property owner. In these circumstances, the duty of care is typically limited to protecting the licensee from any known hazards on the property.
Examples of negligence that may constitute a premises liability
Ensuring visitor safety includes informing visitors of known hazards on a property. For instance, it is logical to assume that, if the structure of an outbuilding is known to be unsafe, the property owner would post danger signs or otherwise inform guests that it is a hazardous area. Leaving electrical cords in walkways or inviting guests to use a stairway that is in need of repair are additional circumstances where known hazards might exist, thus obligating a property owner or non-owner resident to warn visitors.
Injuries that occur on someone else’s property
California commercial property owners are also obligated to ensure safety for their guests, such as merchants who own storefronts or restaurants. If someone suffers injury on another person’s property due to the owner’s negligence, there may be grounds for filing a premises liability claim in civil court. Doing so enables the person who suffered damages to seek financial recovery for his or her losses.