With the holidays fast approaching, it is important that all property owners are aware of the duties and responsibilities they owe to the various guests they will have over for the seasonal celebrations. Accidents and injuries often occur within the dwelling of an individual’s property and that is why it is essential for all homeowners to know the basic concepts of premises liability.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania holds both private and business property owners liable for various injuries people incur while they are on their property. Pennsylvania requires that all property owners provide a “duty of care” to certain individuals who are on their land. This duty usually requires the property to be kept in a safe and non-hazardous state. Injuries that are generally considered to fall under premises liability includes:
- Pet attacks (Dog bites)
- Slip and fall injures due to wet floors
- Hazardous sidewalks, pathways, roadways or thruways
- Failing to remove trash, debris, ice, etc..
- Gas leaks such as carbon monoxide
- Poorly lit walk ways, stairways, thruways, parking lots etc.
- Falling debris from the ceiling and/or roof
- Poor maintenance or security of the premises
If the property owner does not maintain the premises of their property, and the person becomes injured due to the various conditions as mentioned above, the owner may be liable for their injuries because they were negligent.
Three Different Categories of Individuals on Your Property:
The duty of care a property owner owes to an individual on their property depends on the nature and purpose for the person being on the land in the first place. Generally, an individual who enters the property can be placed into 3 separate categories:
- Trespasser– An individual who has entered upon the property of another without the owner’s consent. In many cases the owner owes no duty to this type of guest but the owner CANNOT intentionally, willfully, or wantonly cause an injury to this person. An owner is not allowed to set up traps, or other deadly objects on the property for the purpose of harming trespassers. In the case of trespassing children, the owner should be aware of any attractive nuisances (swimming pools, swing sets, trampolines) that would cause the child to come upon the property. In PA children are afforded one of the highest levels of care and a landowner must take steps to ensure that his/her property is safe for children.
- Licensee– An individual who enters upon the landowner’s property with permission for the visitor’s own benefit and not the owner’s (for example someone who is invited over for dinner or a birthday party). A higher level of care is owed to licensees as opposed to adult trespassers. In the case of licensees, a landowner has the legal responsibility to warn these guests about any dangerous conditions on the property that would create an unreasonable risk of harm that is known to the landowner but would not likely be known to the guest.
- Invitee– An individual who enters upon the land for the benefit of the owner (customer, business visitor, worker, etc.). The owner of any public, business, or otherwise commercial property must keep the property in a reasonably safe condition. Invitees are owed the highest standard of care and the owner must warn invitees of any known or reasonably knowable hazards on the property.
Injured While on Someone Else’s Property?
While these incidents can often be a difficult situation to handle due to the financial, emotional and physical burden it places on the injured party, it is important to know that YOU have rights.
The Law Office of Vincent J. Caputo is ready to help you through this process. Please contact us with any question about your or a loved ones specific injury. Our experienced staff and attorneys will ensure that your needs, concerns, and questions will be handled in a professional and courteous manner. Your Future is Our Priority!