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Premises liability and victim classification

When New Yorkers enter onto the property of another, they probably don't think much about their safety. This is especially true when it comes to a business. There is good reason for this. Under premises liability law, a property owner may be held liable for any injuries suffered on his or her property. This is true when the injuries are suffered by a hazardous property condition, and the property owner knew about that condition but failed to remedy it. A property owner can also be liable if dangerous conditions exist that the property owner didn't know about, but should have known about if he or she were exercising reasonable care. In these circumstances, a victim may be entitled to compensation for his or her injuries.

But it is important to note that a victim's legal classification in such cases can affect the way that the case is approached, as well as the outcome. There are four such classifications. The most common is the invitee, who is an individual who has been invited onto the premises in question. Customers of businesses open to the general public, for example, are invitees. The second and third types of classification are licensee and social guests. These individuals usually enter the premises for their own purposes, but they only do so by consent of the owner. The last type of classification is the trespasser. These individuals enter onto the property of another without any sort of explicit or implied consent.

Why are these classifications important? The property owner's duty of care varies from class to class. Whereas a property owner assures invitees that the premises is free from hazardous conditions, he or she makes no implications of safety to trespassers. This means that an individual who is a trespasser will probably not succeed in a premises liability lawsuit, whereas an invitee may stand a significant chance of success.

So, if you have been injured in a slip-and-fall accident on the property of another, you may want to discuss the matter with an experienced attorney. After all, you may be able to get compensation to help recover medical expenses and lost wages.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?" accessed on May 6, 2017

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