When you step onto or enter private property — whether it's a commercial business or a person's home — it's reasonable to expect that the property will be free of premises defects such as uneven floors, slick surfaces, or other trip hazards.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case. What happens if you become injured due to a trip, slip, or fall? What should you do?
A slip and fall is a type of personal injury claim which relies heavily on premises liability law. Just like someone who is injured in a car accident, a person who is injured in a slip and fall is entitled to seek compensation from those liable in an effort to recover monetary damages related to the injury.
Liability for slip or trip and fall injuries may arise based upon a defendant's ownership of the premises where the injury occurred, their control of the premises, or both. Premises liability is a type of negligence claim usually brought against the owner of the establishment, and liability primarily depends on the injured party's purpose for the visit.
As with any negligence claim, in order to prevail, an injured party must establish a duty of care, a breach of said duty, causation, and damages. The duty of care owed to the victim greatly depends on the "type" of visitor they're legally considered; an invitee, a licensee, or a trespasser.
- Trespasser — A trespasser is a person who is occupying (or on) an owner's land/property without their permission or consent. Although a trespasser is owed the lowest duty of care, the owner still owes a minimal duty of care to a trespasser. This usually means warning trespassers of latent, or hidden, dangers that are known to the owner.
- Licensee — A licensees is a visitor who is permitted to come onto an owner's land for social or personal purposes (e.g., a social guest). The owner has a general duty to warn the licensee of any dangers on the property, and must exercise enough care to prevent injury to a licensee who is actually known to be (or could reasonably be expected to be) within the range of a dangerous act or condition.
- Invitee — An invitee is a visitor who occupies or comes onto an owner's property/land for business (e.g., a customer). This type of visitor is owed the highest duty of care. An owner needs to make the property safe, reasonably inspect the property for any hidden dangers, and remedy the issue or at least warn of any dangerous or hazardous conditions.