As a homeowner, it is important to understand the laws that apply if someone gets injured on your property. As a general rule, homeowners can be held financially responsible for accidents that result from dangerous conditions existing in their homes or on their land. This stems from the fact that homeowners have a legal duty to maintain the safety of their property for others. However, the level of duty owed depends on “status” of the person who was injured.
Allow us to explain.
Determining a Visitor’s Status for Purposes of Establishing Liability
For purposes of premises liability, the law divides people who come onto your property into three categories: licensees, invitees, and trespassers. Your potential liability as a homeowner in the event of an accident depends on upon the category into which the injured individual falls.
Invitees – The Highest Standard of Care
Homeowners owe the greatest duty of care to “invitees.” Invitees are people that come onto your property (or into your home) for a business purpose or to do work. Invitees include:
- Home contractors (plumbers, electricians, handymen)
- Phone and cable technicians
- Real estate agents
- In-home care providers
Homeowners owe invitees a duty of care to keep their premises safe. This means that, not only must you inform invitees of any potential hazards, but you must also take prompt steps to fix them. If you don’t, and if an invitee is injured as a result, you may be held financially responsible.
Licensees – A Lesser Standard of Care
The term “licensees” refers to people that you invite to your house for any purpose other than business – such as friends, party guests, and family members. Homeowners owe a lesser duty of care to licensees, but a duty nonetheless.
With respect to licensees, homeowners are required to provide notice of any dangerous conditions that the homeowner knows (or reasonably should know) to exist. If you have a reasonable opportunity to fix the issue before your guests arrive, you should fix it as well.
Trespassers – Generally No Duty of Care (emphasis on Generally)
Finally, homeowners owe the least responsibility to trespassers. In fact, the general rule is that homeowners owe no duty of care to trespassers. They aren’t supposed to be there in the first place, so as a homeowner you are not responsible if they get injured. There are limited exceptions (such as if you are aware the trespasser is on your property), but in general it is going to be very difficult for a trespasser to succeed in bringing a premises liability claim.
Questions? Contact Illinois Personal Injury Attorney Steven J. Malman
If you have questions about slip-and-fall, dog bite, or other premises-related injuries, contact the experienced attorneys at Malman Law. Call (888) 625-6265 or fill out our online FREE case evaluation today.