Trespassers, Invitees, & Licensees: Three Kinds of Visitors on Private Property

When trying to understand the legal aspects of an Orange County slip and fall case, it is important to understand why the injury victim was on the private property in the first place. Was he on the property legally? Was she invited to the property? Were they working or conducting business on the property? Did the landowner even know the injury victim was on the property?

In some cases, the reason the injury victim was on the property can help determine whether the landowner was responsible for the injury victim’s wellbeing. Under California premises liability law, there are three types of visitors to private property:

  • Trespasser. Anyone who is not authorized to be on the property at a given time can be considered a trespasser. As you might guess, a trespasser has the least amount of protection under the law when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. A landowner has a very limited amount of duty to keep trespassers safe, but there are some exceptions. For example, a property owner does have to exercise some care to warn everyone of very dangerous conditions and to protect children from danger who may wander onto the property.
  • Invitee. Anyone who is invited onto a property by a landowner is an invitee. Invitees have the most protection under the law in the case of a slip and fall accident. The most common type of invitee is a customer: someone on the property to receive goods or services. A property owner has an obligation to warn invitees of possible hazards on the property and to keep their visitors reasonably safe.
  • Licensee. A licensee is a person who has a specific reason to enter a property, and who has permission to be on the property. However, a licensee is on the property for his or her own reasons and not for business purposes. Good examples of a licensee are a person who is attending a party, a family member with an open invitation to the property, or someone who has entered a business location for non-business purposes. Generally, a landowner has more of a duty to keep a licensee from harm than a trespasser, but less than an invitee.

Determining why you were on another person’s private property at the time of your accident is key in understanding who was at fault for your accident and whether you deserve compensation. To better understand your California slip and fall case, speak with one of the attorneys at Russell & Lazarus today in a free, one-on-one meeting. Schedule your meeting today by calling 885-851-2400.

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