Slip and Fall Cases – Premises Liability – Legal Status of Claimant

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, in a slip and fall, trip and fall or in some other manner by a dangerous or defective condition of the property, there are a few legal issues you should be aware of. Holding the property owner or business responsible for your injuries often depends on your relationship to that property owner or business. The law recognizes a claimant or injured person as having one of three statuses:

  • Trespasser: a person who enters or remains upon land in the possession of another without the privilege to do so created by the possessor’s consent or otherwise. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 329. In Pennsylvania, a trespasser may recover for injuries sustained on land only if the possessor of the land was guilty of wanton or willful negligence or misconduct.
  • Licensee: a licensee is a person who is privileged to enter or remain on the land by virtue of a possessor’s consent. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 330. Normally a licensee is on the land of another solely for the licensee’s own purpose, in which the possessor of land has no interest either business or social. A possessor of land is liable to a licensee injured by a condition on the property only where (a) the possessor knows or has reason to know of the condition and should realize that it involves an unreasonable risk of harm to such licensees, and should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, and (b) he fails to exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe, or to warn the licensee of the condition and the risk involved, and (c) the licensees do not know or have reason to know of the condition and the risk involved.
  • Invitee: an invitee is either a public invitee or a business visitor. A public invitee is a person who is invited to enter or remain on the land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is held open to the public. A business visitor is a person who is invited to enter or remain on land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of land. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 332. A possessor of land is liable for physical harm caused to his invitee by a condition on land, but only if the possessor (a) knows or by the exercise of reasonable care would discover the condition, and should realize it involves unreasonable risk of harm to such invitee, and (b) should expect that they will not discover or realize the danger, or fail to protect themselves from it, and (c) fails to exercise reasonable care to protect them against the danger. Restatement (Second) of Torts § 343.

The legal status of the claimant or injured person determines the level of knowledge or care that must be exercised by the property owner, in working to protect visitors from dangerous conditions. The claimant’s status also defines the claimant’s own responsibility to avoid dangerous conditions.

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, whether you were shopping in a supermarket, walking through a parking lot, walking on a neighborhood sidewalk, or even just walking through your own place of work, you need an experienced, knowledgeable, trial attorney to represent you and get you fully compensated for your injuries. Contact the offices of McMonagle, Perri, McHugh, Mischak and Davis for a free consultation today.