If you’ve recently been injured on someone else’s property, you need to know what “duty" the land owner owed you. In every premises liability case, the plaintiff needs to prove four elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages. For purposes of this article, we are going to examine the different types of duty owed to the plaintiff on a land owner’s property.
The duty that a land owner owes to a plaintiff hinges primarily upon that plaintiff’s status. In order for an attorney to determine the plaintiff’s status on the property, an attorney needs to know why the plaintiff was on the property in the first place. There are five categories under Florida law that determines a plaintiff’s status with regards to premises liability.
The first status is that of a public invitee: a person who is invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. If the plaintiff is a public invitee, the land owner owes the plaintiff the following duties: 1.) to correct or warn of dangers of which the owner knows or should know by the use of reasonable care and of which the visitor cannot or should not know by the use of reasonable care; and 2.) to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition.
The second status is that of a business invitee: a person who is invited to enter or remain on a piece of property for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with the business dealings with the land owner. If the plaintiff is a public invitee, the land owner owes the plaintiff the same duty that he would owe a public invitee.
The third status is that of a licensee by invitation: a social guest. If the plaintiff is a licensee by invitation, the land owner would owe him the same duty as he would a public invitee.
The fourth and fifth statuses stem from unwanted, or uninvited, plaintiffs upon the land owner’s property. An uninvited licensee is a person who chooses to come upon the premises solely for his own convenience without the invitation of the land owner. Likewise, a trespasser is a person who enters the premises without a license, invitation, or other right, and intrudes for some his own purpose. Regardless of whether the plaintiff is an uninvited licensee or a trespasser, the land owner owes the plaintiff a duty to refrain from willful or wanton injury. In other words, the land owner must remove any concealed traps of which he has actual knowledge; or, at the very least, have an affective warning of the trap so as to not cause injury to the plaintiff.
Determining the duty owed to a plaintiff by a land owner is only part of the analysis an attorney must perform. If you’ve been injured while on another’s property, give me a call so I can help you.
Christopher Ison, Esq.
Pansler Law Firm
223 North Florida Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33801