Premises Liability

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As a landowner, you may be liable to those who become injured while on your property. These types of accidents can include trips, slips, falls, inadequate security, animal bites, and other similar injuries. In Ohio, the status of a person entering the land defines the scope of the legal duty that the landowner owes to that individual. A person entering the land of another can be classified as a trespasser, licensee or invitee.

In order to be considered an invitee or social guest, there must be evidence of an actual invitation the host extended to the guest, express or implied. On the basis of that invitation, a social guest is thought to be on the premises presumably giving the possessor some personal benefit, intangible though it may be. A property owner has the duty to exercise reasonable care not to cause injury to his guest by any act or by any activities carried on by the landowner while the guest is on the premise. If the landowner has reason to believe that a guest is unaware of a dangerous condition on the land that the guest will not discover himself, the landowner must also warn the guest of the dangerous condition.

In contrast, a licensee is one who enters upon the premises of another, by permission or acquiescence, but not by invitation, for his own convenience. A landowner only owes a duty to refrain from wantonly or willfully causing injury to the licensee, and to warn the licensee of any dangers known to the owner.

A person who comes onto the land must also take reasonable precautions to avoid dangers that are obvious. According to the “open and obvious” doctrine, a property owner has no duty to warn or protect invitees or licensees against hazardous conditions that are open and obvious. This doctrine is premised on the fact that the open and obvious nature of the hazard itself serves as a sufficient warning. Based on this rationale, a person must exercise reasonable care to avoid injury and if he does not fulfill his obligation in such respect, there can be no recovery for an injury caused by such lack of care. Thus, when the danger is determined to be open and obvious, a property owner owes no duty of care to individuals lawfully on the premises.

Even less of a duty is owed to a trespasser. Generally, a landowner only has a duty to refrain from willful, wanton or reckless conduct that is likely to cause injury, death or loss to the person of a trespasser.

If you have been injured on the property of another or have had an injury occur on your property, Joseph T. Burke has the experience necessary to fight for you. Call Joseph T. Burke today to discuss the particular facts and circumstances of your situation.