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Can a Private Homeowner Be Held Liable for Injuries on Their Property?

When people discuss personal injury lawsuits, they often talk about getting hurt on someone else’s property. Such lawsuits fall into the category of premises liability. These suits rely on the idea that someone who owns land, the “premises,” can be responsible for injuries on that land, or “liable.” If you are hurt on someone else’s property, your ability to sue relies on the details of your injury. Most of us are aware of the ability to sue businesses for injuries, but it is also possible to sue a private landowner for premises liability.

Homeowner Liability

The law has different classifications for people who visit a property. When you are invited to a private residence, you are considered a “licensee.” The property’s owner allows you onto the premises, giving you “license” to use their property.

If you harm yourself through the normal use of the property, it is unlikely that you will be able to successfully sue. For instance, imagine you decide to use the stove. Through a careless error, you burn your hand. You could attempt a lawsuit against the homeowner, but it probably wouldn’t go very far. As a licensee, you are not granted any special protection when using the appliances.

However, homeowners do have a responsibility to warn their guests of unreasonable, unexpected dangers. Let’s return to the example of the stove. Imagine that it is faulty and tends to shoot flames. If the homeowner fails to warn you of this danger before you use the stove, they could be held liable for any burn injuries you sustained.

Private landowners also cannot be grossly negligent with their guests’ safety. Gross negligence shows a complete lack of concern for another person. Imagine a homeowner pranking their guests with dangerous traps. Think of them allowing you to go up faulty stairs that collapse beneath you. Extreme, dangers such as these are the fault of the landowner, and you can hold them accountable.

Why Are Business Owners More Responsible for Your Safety?

With premises liability, the law considers the purpose behind the property. Private property is meant to be used however its owner intends. When you visit it, you do so with the permission of that owner, who can put restrictions on your behavior. They can tell you not to go to a certain room, not to touch a certain item, etc.

Business property is meant to be used by clients and customers. There would be no purpose for its existence otherwise. Therefore, business owners have a much higher level of responsibility toward their visitors, legally known as “invitees.” Owners and manager must keep their land free from dangers, which is why you can sue even if you are hurt in the parking lot.

If you have been hurt on someone else’s land, contact our office for a free consultation. We may be able to assess the facts surrounding your injury. If you have a case against the property’s owner, we could help you seek compensation. Our number is (843) 968-0886, and you can contact us online.