A gavel on a desk with a legal scale.

Homeownership is an exciting aspect of any person’s life. Being able to decorate the inside of the home and your landscaping the way you want, turning that one building into more of a house but a home. A place to thrive and build memories with your family.

Unfortunately, there is a serious side to homeownership. Under the legal concept of premises liability, property owners are responsible for maintaining safe conditions on their property. This means fixing broken boards on stairs or ensuring that a pool has a privacy fence to protect young children from wandering in. 

It is important to note, however, that a property owner is not always held liable for accidents that happen on their property. Several factors need to be taken into consideration when considering an accident and who is liable, especially when it happens on someone’s private property. One of the biggest factors to consider is the victim of the accident and what their reason for being on the property was. When talking about the individual who was hurt on the property, they can be placed into one of three categories; licensees, invitees, and trespassers, here is the information you need to know:

What Is a Licensee?

The term ‘licensee’ is a legal term used to describe an individual who has the expressed or implied permission of the property owner to be on the premises. Licensee’s are usually there for their own business or interest, such as a guest at a party. Property owners owe a lesser duty of care to a licensee than an invitee. Licensee’s need to be warned of potential dangers on the property that could lead to injury, such as a broken board on the front porch or an aggressive dog.

What Is an Invitee?

The legal definition of an ‘invitee’ is a person who is invited onto a property for the mutual benefit of both the property owner and the guest. This includes shoppers at a store or a guest in a hotel.

Invitees are, by law, owed the highest duty of care from the property owner in terms of their safety. This includes taking actions to ensure that the property is completely maintained and that any areas of the property that could cause an injury, such as a slippery floor, are marked. 

Would an Invitee Ever Be Downgraded to a Licensee?

In some cases, an individual who may at first seem like an invitee, such as a customer at a supermarket, may be deemed a licensee during the court case. This happens if it was found out that the individual came into the store or property for their own benefit, such as using the restroom without buying anything.

What Is a Trespasser?

Una señal de precaución frente a una piscina.

In premises liability cases, the term ‘trespasser’ refers to an individual who does not have the authorization of the property owner to be on the property. This can include a burglar or someone walking through the property without permission. Property owners do not owe trespassers any duty of care.

The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

There is one instance though, when a trespasser is owed a duty of care and that is when the trespasser is a child. Children are protected by law by the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. This doctrine states that property owners need to take precautions to protect children who may wander onto one’s property to investigate an attractive nuisance, such as a swimming pool. 

These steps could mean ensuring that the swimming pool is properly fenced in to keep children from wandering and falling in, ensuring that dogs are restrained in their yard by a fence to keep them from coming into contact with children without their owner present, or ensuring that tools and other equipment are properly put away.

Claiming Compensation for a Premises Liability Case

If you were injured on someone else’s property, you may be eligible for monetary compensation for damages and medical expenses. Our dedicated premises liability attorneys are willing to sit down with you and discuss the details of your case to help you get started on your road to recovery. With the team at the Hernandez Law Group, P.C. behind your back, you can be sure that your case will be represented by Texas’s best. Contact our team today for more information on our services or to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.