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Washington DC Personal injury law firm

What Homeowners Can Do to Prevent Premises Liability Claims

Posted on November 17, 2016 to

Hurt On Someone Else’s Property? You need a Premises Liability Attorney

Washington, D.C., Virginia And Maryland Injury Lawyer for Premises Liability Accidents

Premises liability law holds landowners responsible when someone else is injured on their land. If you have been injured on another’s property, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. However, your rights when injured on someone else’s property depend upon your legal status while on the property. Also, those who are physically injured by assault may be able to hold the assaulter responsible for damages.

This information is provided by a Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia injury law firm is meant to help you understand the laws surrounding premises liability.

Property Owners or Possessors

When bringing a premises liability claim, it is important to first identify who owns or possesses the property. The law states that a person is considered to possess the property when that person:

  • Occupies the land with the intent to control it
  • Previously occupied the property with the intent to control it and no other person has subsequently occupied that property with the intent to control it
  • Is entitled to immediate occupation of the property, if no other person is in possession of the property

Legal Status of Persons Entering the Property

The duty that a landowner owes to a person entering the property depends upon the legal status of that entrant. The law regarding the legal status of a land entrant and its impact on a landowner’s duty of care varies by jurisdiction. A person on the property belonging to another person is typically classified under the law as one of the following:

  • Trespasser
  • Licensee
  • Invitee

If the land entrant is trespasser, the only duty of care a landowner owes to that individual is to refrain from willful injury or entrapment. A landowner must not allow any known man-made dangerous conditions on the property, such as a trap. Otherwise, a landowner is not responsible for any injuries to a trespasser.

If the land entrant is a licensee, or an informal guest, the landowner owes the duty to exercise reasonable care of an ordinarily prudent person regarding any activities conducted on the property. This means that a landowner must act in a manner that most reasonable people would. The landowner also owes a duty to warn licensees of any known dangerous conditions that could not reasonably be discovered by the guest.

The most common instance of premises liability arises when an invitee enters upon the property of another. An invitee is an individual who is publicly invited onto the land, such as a customer who enters another’s store. A landowner still owes the same duty of care for activities conducted on the premises: that of an ordinarily prudent person. However, the landowner has a greater duty of care regarding any dangerous conditions on the property. The landowner has a duty to warn the invitee of all concealed dangerous conditions on the land that the land occupier either knew about or could have discovered through reasonable inspection. This imposes a duty on the landowner to inspect the premises for any dangerous conditions and protect all invitees from such conditions.

If You Have Been Injured on the Premises of Another

If you were injured while on the property of another, you may be entitled to compensation. If the property owner owed you a duty of care and failed to fulfill that duty, that individual or entity should be held responsible for your injury. If you have been injured and need assistance, please contact the premises liability attorneys at Koonz, McKenney, Johnson, DePaolis & Lightfoot, L.L.P. We serve in and around DC, with offices in Washington, D.C. nearby Greenbelt, Maryland, in addition to Fairfax, Virginia. Our premises liability lawyers are ready to help.