Premise liability laws can be complicated, inconsistent and unpredictable at times. Generally speaking, a property owner is responsible for ensuring their property is safe and well maintained, but that doesn't create a blanket of liability to tend to at all times. If a personal injury is sustained while on another person's property, that party may be held liable for damages if it is deemed they were negligent.
Whether or not the property owner is liable will also depend on what type of entrant the injured person happens to be (like invited guest vs. home invader). Further complicating things is that there are exceptions to each rule.
Before it gets too muddled, let's clarify what each type of entrant is and what the exceptions are in each situation.
A trespasser is an individual that is on private property without permission. Property owners are not responsible for the well-being of trespassers.
A person is considered an invitee if the property owner invites them onto the premises. Because they are invited, the property owner is responsible for their safety and well-being while on their property. Invitees may include store patrons.
A person is considered a licensee if they are allowed on the property, but were not invited. It's often difficult for judges to determine the difference between an invitee and a licensee simply because the circumstances of the case will dictate which category the victim falls into. Owners have a lower level of responsibility for licensees. They must still warn them of any potential dangers that the licensee may not be able to easily see. However, they are not obligated to repair or maintain the premises.
Premise Injury Exceptions
- Even if a child is considered a trespasser, the property owner may be held responsible if the child is enticed to play with a dangerous object on the property, or if the owner maintains a dangerous condition on the property. Judges can be unpredictable with this exception.
- Other exceptions to trespassing include emergency and volunteer rescuers. If the owner does not post a “No Trespassing” sign or erect a fence around their property, people passing through the property would be considered Tolerated Trespassers. Greater duties are owed to Tolerated Trespassers and owners may be held liable in some instances.
- Social guests attending a party and family members are considered exceptions to the invitee rule. Instead, these individuals are considered licensees.
There are also some instances when an entrant's classification may change while they are on the property. This can further complicate the case. For example, a person is considered an invitee if they enter a property to purchase items from a yard sale. In this case, the property owner does not permit yard sale patrons to enter their home. If a patron decides to enter the home without first asking permission, they then become a trespasser. If they are injured inside of the home, the property owner may not be held responsible. However, if they are injured in the front yard, the owner would be responsible.
Contact a Colorado Personal Injury Attorney Skilled in Premise Injury Cases
If you sustained an injury on another party's property, the property owner may be liable for your injuries and you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, missed time at work, and other consequences of your injury. If you're in this situation, take the appropriate legal action and ensure that your best interests are being protected by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney in today. Call Attorney Rosenthal at (303) 825-2223 and see how much better a trusted legal consultation will make you feel.