Consider the following scenario: a shopper at a supermarket
slips and falls on wet tile, injuring their wrist. Can this shopper then hold the store
owners responsible for her medical bills or any other burdens resulting
from her injury? It all depends upon a legal concept called "duty
Duty of care is the responsibility that all property owners, residential
and commercial, have to provide safe conditions to welcome visitors on
their premises. Additionally, if there are hazards of any kind, the owners
have the responsibility to warn these visitors of them. Figuring out whether
or not you owed duty of care first depends on what "type" of
visitor you were to the property.
What type of visitor were you?
When it comes to
premises liability matters, there are generally four categories of "visitor" the
injured party can fall into. These categories determine whether or not
the injured party was owed duty of care and, in turn, if the property
owner can then be held liable for an injury.
The four types of visitors include:
Invitees. Invitees are any individuals who are welcome and wanted on the property.
For residential owners, this can mean social guests and for commercial
owners, this can mean customers and patrons. Invitees are owed duty of care.
Licensee. A licensee is someone who is not necessarily welcome on the property
but is allowed. The most common examples of licensees are service people:
repairmen, delivery personnel, plumbers, etc. Under most circumstances,
licensees are owed duty of care.
Trespassers. A trespasser is an individual who is in a location where they are not
allowed. This can mean that they have broken into a property after hours
and are breaking the law, or even just gone through a door that was clearly
marked "employees only." Trespassers are not owed duty of care.
Children. Minors required certain, nuanced considerations in these cases. In many
instances, even children who are trespassing can be owed duty of care
because of "attractive nuisance" laws, which understand that
children might be naturally attracted to dangerous areas because they
do not know any better. If your child has been hurt, speak with a proven
St. Louis personal injury attorney to explore your legal options.
It is important to note that these categories can be fluid. For instance,
an individual who buys a ticket at the zoo can be considered an invitee—until
they willingly leap into the lion exhibit, then they are a trespasser.
Dissecting the Supermarket Fall
Once you know what kind of visitor you are and if you know you were owed
duty of care, you can proceed with your premises liability claim. In the
case of our supermarket shopper who fell, she is owed duty of care: she
was an invitee present during regular business hours. However, there is
one other critical consideration to her premises liability options: when
dangerous conditions occurred.
In order to hold a property owner responsible for unsafe conditions, they
need to have reasonably known or reasonably should have know about the
conditions. So where did the water on the wet tile come from?
In one scenario, the water came from a freezer which regularly leaked and the store owners
did nothing to fix it. In this scenario, the property owners knew about
the leak and did nothing about it. They are liable.
In a second scenario, the water came from another customer who spilled a beverage. While staff
ran to get a mop and a hazard cone, the shopper in question rounded a
corner and slipped on the puddle. In this scenario, the store is likely
not liable—they were responding to the spill in a timely manner,
but the injured shopper's timing was just unfortunate.
If you believe that you have a claim against a property owner for dangerous
conditions that harmed you, we invite you to contact us at
McCloskey Law Center today. Our dedicated legal team of injury advocates have more than half
a century of legal experience. We know how to assess the details of your
case, provide actionable legal options, and, if necessary, take exacting
and aggressive legal action against the parties responsible for your injury.
It can be possible to recover the relief you deserve.
Contact our firm today start exploring your options.