In California and the rest of the country, premises liability cases have
long been reviewed by first deciding whether the victim was a trespasser,
licensee or invitee. In recent years, however, the courts have been moving
away from this traditional but stricter approach. The modern take on premises
liability cases involves the courts reviewing the defendant's action
before, during and after the incident to determine if there was anything
else that could have been done to prevent the accident.
In previous decades, how much protection from harm a person at another's
property could assume depended on whether the person was a trespasser
(there without permission), a licensee (there to conduct the person's
own business) or a invitee (someone on the premises to conduct or further
the landowner's business). While this approach can make it easier
for landowners to more accurately predict their level of liability and
make changes, it does not necessarily allow for the courts to view each
Courts that favor the more modern approach of looking at the details of
each specific case are sometimes better able to decide if there was anything
else the landowner could have or should have done to prevent or reduce
the risk of an accident. Influencing factors may be things such as local
crime rate, previous evidence of trespassers or even whether the landowner knew the
security was inadequate.
While the differences between the two approaches may seem small, how the
case is handled can have a significant effect on the outcome and whether
the victim is awarded any compensation. Because laws and guidelines are
constantly changing, it is important for those who have been injured at
another's residence or business to seek the most current legal information
from a knowledgeable source.
Source: FindLaw, "
Homeowner Liability: Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers" Dec. 03, 2014