Premises liability law refers to the body of law which makes landlords or the person who possesses the land responsible for the harm or injuries suffered by an invitee, business invitee, public invitee, licensees, and/or trespassers who is present on a premises.
A premises owner's duty of care varies depending on the classification of the person person who was injured on the premises. The following are the various classifications:
Invitees: This is a person who enters a property owner’s land in order to transact business in which the parties are mutually interested or in response to the landowner’s express or implied invitation. Property owners owe the highest level of care to invitees. They might enter a grocery store to buy food or a store to get a blouse. Repairmen who are invited into a home to fix a door, for instance, are also considered business invitees.
Property owners must keep their property in a safe condition and either repair or provide notice of any known dangers on the premises. As part of their duties, the owner must regularly inspect the property for conditions that would harm invitees; as such, they might be held responsible for injuries that result because of dangers they should have known about, but did not.
Business Invitee: This is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of the land. See Post v. Lunney, 261 So. 2d 146, 147 (Fla. 1972) (differentiating between public invitees and business invitees in the state of Florida.)
Public Invitee: This is 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.
Licensees: This person enters and stays on a property owner’s land for the owner’s convenience or to advance his interests, with that individual’s permission and consent. This includes social guests. These are afforded the second-highest standard of care. They are typically social guests like friends, family members or the like, and include events like birthday parties or other social celebrations. They can also include uninvited guests like a neighbor stopping by for some sugar.
Trespassers: This is someone who enters onto another person’s property without that landowner’s consent or knowledge. Under the “discovered trespasser’s rule,” if a landowner knows that a trespasser is on his property, he must exercise reasonable care for that individual’s safety.
If someone is injured on public property, premises liability law protects him under the Federal Torts Claim Act. Citizens can sue any government entity for a personal injury claim if the accident happened at places like public parks or amusement parks.