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When you go over to your friend’s house, you are there as a visitor. Usually, if you were invited that makes you a licensee. When you show up at a restaurant, store, or similar location, you are considered an invitee. These are legal words that simply dictate the level of responsibility an owner has to their visitors.

Store and restaurant owners, places where people are constantly coming in/out for a particular purpose, have a high standard of care to their customers. This means they must keep their premises clean, clear of danger, and reasonably safe. This also means that they must constantly be checking their grounds to make sure it stays reasonably safe throughout the day. A failure to protect visitors can lead to owner (or whoever occupies the land) liability.

Owner-Occupier Liability

While the idea of a “standard of care” may seem complex, it really is quite simple. Think about it by example: you go to the grocery store. If you slip on a puddle of milk from a carton someone dropped and no one cleaned up, the store may be liable. Broken steps, negligently placed items that cause people to trip and fall, lack of lighting, or failure to provide adequate security are among other circumstances that can lead to liability. This liability may be inflicted not just on the property owner, but may extend to managers, supervisors, property managers, or employees in some circumstances.

To an extent, the same is true at another person’s home. The standard of care a tenant or landowner owns their invited social guests is lower than the standard for public places such as stores and restaurants. The main difference is that in the case of  a social guest, the owner is not responsible to continually check on their grounds throughout the day the way a shopkeeper would need to. In the case of a social guest, they must simply be warned of known conditions in the house that may be dangerous. For example, if the water that comes out of the faucet in the bathroom is constantly scalding hot to the point it would inflict severe burns if touched, then the person who knows of this danger must warn their guests. If the owner did not know of this danger, then they have no such obligation to report it to their guests.

Premises Liability Actions in Pennsylvania

These distinctions may seem minor, but can have a significant impact on the outcome of a premises liability lawsuit. These types of suits arise when someone is injured as a result of a land owner or occupier’s failure to take care of their premises and protect their guests. Our experienced premises liability attorneys at Solnick & Levin LLC understand the rights of guests and the responsibility of landowners. If you or anyone you know has been injured at a location that is controlled or operated by another, you may have an opportunity to regain your medical expenses, wages lost from work, pain and suffering, and other related costs. To learn more about your rights, contact our Jenkintown, Pennsylvania offices today.

Photo Credit: kalleboo via Compfight cc

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