Dangerous premises liability: How cases are handled

Dangerous premises liability: How cases are handled

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 case individually.

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

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