The State of Florida requires that all property owners take special care to keep the area safe and secure for people who visit their premises. If they do not keep their area safe, they may be liable for any injuries that occur. However, whether an injured person is eligible to recover compensation depends on whether s/he was a invitee, licensee, or trespasser. Below, we detail what rights invitees, licensees, and trespassers have to compensation.
Who are invitees?
Invitees are persons whom the property owner has invited onto the property, usually for business purposes. Invitees can be customers, contractors, etc.
Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. This means they must ensure their property is safe by fixing any dangerous hazards and perform inspections to check for hazards.
If they do not perform these inspections and/or do not fix or warn you about a hazard and you are injured, you may be entitled to compensation.
Who are licensees?
Licensees are people who visit a property for their purposes. This means that they may not have an invitation to be on the property, but the property owner has consented to the presence.
For example, someone who comes into your place of work to use the phone or ask for directions is a licensee.
A licensee could also be your friend or family member showing up at your home unexpectedly.
While property owners do not owe licensees the same duty of care as invitees, they must ensure that they do not “willfully or wantonly” harm the licensee. They must also warn them of any non-obvious hazards.
For example, if there is a jagged nail in the carpet, the property owner must tell a licensee to refrain from causing harm.
Who are trespassers?
A trespasser is someone who enters the property of another without an invitation or the right to do so.
The duty of care a property owner has to a trespasser depends whether the property owner discovered the trespasser or not.
A property owner has no duty of care to a trespasser if he does not know he is there.
However, property owners actually have a duty to avoid “willful and wanton” any harm to any discovered trespasser, without rightful cause.
“Willful and wanton” essentially means that property owners cannot perform any act that creates “an unreasonable risk of physical harm” to the trespasser.
Note: The law does not hold trespassing children to the same standard. Owners must always secure any “attractive nuisances” on the property. If they do not, they may be liable for any injuries a child suffers. An attractive nuisance is anything man-made that a child might find interesting enough to enter the property (e.g., pools, trampolines, abandoned cars, abandoned appliances).
How does this affect my claim?
There are quite a few subtle differences between invitees, licensees, and trespassers that could mean the difference between recovering compensation and recovering nothing.
To determine whether you have a valid premises liability claim, call Coffey Trial Law in Fort Lauderdale today: 954-541-3194.