If you go to a party at a friend’s house, assuming of course that you were invited, you certainly are not considered a trespasser, right? What if you get injured while you are at that party? Who is responsible and to what degree? The answer is: you are considered a Licensee. A licensees burden of proof is based on the laws of the state where the injury occurred.
What is a licensee?
A licensee is someone who is invited onto the premises for social purposes, or solely for their own purposes. Party guests are common examples of licensees, as are family friends who have been given an open invitation to visit or make use of the owner’s property. People who enter a store to ask for directions, or to retrieve something that belongs to them are considered licensees, even though they are on business property. Also, someone who may be chasing a pet into a business premises may also be classified as licensees, because that person is on the premises for their own purposes, not to purchase something from the store.
What is the duty of care to a licensee?
A property owner is required to ensure that conditions on the premises are safe for licensees. The owner is only required to take reasonable care to protect a licensee from a known hazard located on the premises. There is no duty to inspect for and discover unknown dangers. However, the level of care the property owner is required to meet, is lower that the level of care owed to a business invitee. With a business invitee, the property owner has the duty to actually seek out unknown dangers and protect against them.
What is the Licensees burden of proof?
In most states, including Missouri and Arkansas, the licensees burden of proof is generally the same. First, you must prove that the property owner was in possession of the premises or property where the injury occurred. Next, you have to prove your status on the property as either an invitee or licensee. Generally, no real duty is owed to a trespasser. You must also prove that there was some negligence or wrongful act on the part of the owner. This is where the different standards of care come in. A licensee is owed a somewhat lesser duty than an invitee. Finally, there must be a showing that the negligence or wrongful conduct resulted in the injuries you claim.
What is liability for a licensee’s injuries based on?
In most cases, a property owner is liable for a licensee’s injuries when the owner was aware of a condition on his property that posed an unreasonable risk of harm to anyone who may encounter that condition. If the owner could not reasonably expect a visitor or licensee to appreciate the existence of the danger, or how serious the danger is, but the owner failed to use reasonable care to eliminate that danger, or to warn visitors, then the owner can be held liable.
If you have questions regarding premises liability, or any other personal injury concerns, please contact the Cottrell Law Office by calling us at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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