What Is Your Duty to People Who Come on Your Property?

/ / Law Blog
Premises liability lawyers

When you went to a friend’s house, did your friend ever tell you to “make yourself at home?”  Or, did you ever go to that famous restaurant that claims, “when you’re here, you’re family?”  Well, legally speaking, those statements are not quite accurate – surprise, surprise.  (We’re sure you already figured that out about the “you’re family” slogan).  

In all seriousness, anyone who owns the property and has people on their property owes those visitors something called a “duty of care.”  That duty exists for both owners of a private home or a retail store.  Now, as the name suggests, the duty of care means that property owners basically have an obligation (a duty) to ensure that the property is reasonably safe and will not cause someone injury.  It is, essentially, the basic elements of an area of personal injury law called premises liability, which is about property owners being held liable for injuries on their premises.  

In this article, we will discuss the basics of premises liability and then go into detail about the three different duties of care that you, as a property owner, would owe to others.  If, after reading this article, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the premises liability lawyers in Stuart, FL at Crary Buchanan.  At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.  

Our premises liability lawyers in Stuart are passionate about giving you the highest quality representation.  Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

What is a Premises Liability Claim?

Under Florida law, a claim of premises liability is a type of negligence claim.  It is essentially a claim that a property owner was negligent in keeping his or her property safe for visitors.  

If someone is injured due to a slip and fall on your property, whether it is your home or your grocery store, then the injured party needs to prove four elements to obtain money for his or her injuries:

1. You, the property owner, owed the visitor a duty of care;
2. You breached that duty;
3. The visitor was injured as a result of that breach; and
4. The visitor has actual damages (like medical bills).

All four of those elements must be proven by the injured party by a preponderance of the evidence.  That means that the injured party needs to show that it was “more likely than not” that the four elements are true.  An injured party would, as with any personal injury case, provide testimony and other evidence to meet the preponderance standard for each element.  

The Three Different Duties of Care

We are going to focus this article on the first element of premises liability – the duty of care.  At first blush, you may think that there is one type of duty of care, but there are actually three.

The reason there are three is that people have different reasons for being on your property.  And you would treat people a certain way depending upon the circumstances.  For example, you want to make sure that your business premises are very safe for your customers, but you do not have much interest in making a burglar comfortable. Accordingly, the three duties of care are:

1. Invitees,
2. Licensees, and
3. Trespassers

Invitees are those customers who come into your store.  You owe them the highest duty, which is that the premises should be safe from any dangerous conditions about which you know or should have known.  

Licensees, in contrast to invitees, are visitors to your home.  Your duty is slightly lower, whereby you need to keep the property reasonably safe and warn visitors of any known dangers on the property.

Trespassers are, not surprisingly, owed the lowest duty of care because they do not have permission to be on the premises.  For a trespasser, you simply should not do anything that would recklessly or intentionally cause a trespasser injury.  Thus, setting a booby trap that could injure a trespasser is illegal.  

If you are a property owner and someone was injured on your property, or if you were injured on someone else’s property, then you should contact a seasoned premises liability lawyer.  Premises liability is a specific area of personal injury law, and you would be well served by having an attorney by your side who has experience with premises liability cases.    

Contact the Premises Liability Lawyers in Stuart to Get the Help You Need

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law, including premises liability.  You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry. 

Our legal team is passionate about maintaining the high standards of professionalism and legal service that were established and practiced by founding attorneys Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.  Evans Crary Sr. began his law practice in Stuart in 1927 at a time when Martin County was only two years old.  He became a municipal judge at the age of 25 and served as County Attorney for 23 years. 

During his time as County Attorney, he was elected to represent Martin County in the Florida Legislature.  In 1945 he was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.  He served in the House for nine years and even served as Speaker of the House before he went on to become a member of the Florida Senate.  Today, the Crary Buchanan law firm continues to practice the example of integrity, professionalism, energy, and devotion that was clearly illustrated in the lives of both Evans Crary Sr. and Evans Crary Jr.

Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations.  Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations.  When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.

If you have more questions or want a dedicated car accident lawyer in Stuart to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form.  You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust.  Call today.