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Premises Liability

The term “premises liability” includes all cases in which a person was injured because of a dangerous condition on someone else’s property. The people and businesses who own and control property, including private businesses and public property, are required to keep their property reasonably safe for the people that it expects will have some reason to enter the property.

Bekman, Marder, Hopper, Malarkey & Perlin, L.L.C. has been representing people who were injured because of dangerous conditions which were created and allowed to exist on property for almost seventy years. If you or someone you know has been injured because of a hazard or dangerous condition, call our firm so we can discuss the specific facts of your case.

The first step in succeeding in a premises liability case is to determine the legal status of the person who was injured. That is because the person or business who owns or controls the property has different responsibilities of safety depending who was hurt. Under Maryland law, there are generally four legal categories: invitee, licensee by invitation, bare licensee, or trespasser.

  • Invitee – An invitee is best thought of as a business guest or customer. An invitee is a person who is on the property for a purpose related to the owner’s business, such as a store customer. People and businesses who own properties are required to protect invitees more than any other category of visitor. They owe them the duty of keeping the property safe. That means they are required to inspect the property and protect invitees from all foreseeable dangers, or to warn the invitee of any potentially dangerous condition.
  • Licensee by Invitation – A Licensee by Invitation is best thought of as a social guest. This includes people who are invited onto a property for a social purpose (instead of a business purpose). A guest to a party or a person who visits a friend’s house would fall into this category. Even though they are invited onto the property, a property owner’s duty to protect a licensee by invitation is less than the duty they owe to an invitee. A property owner must warn a licensee by invitation of all dangerous conditions that the owner knows about, but does not necessarily have the obligation to inspect the property to find out about dangerous conditions.
  • Bare Licensee – A bare licensee is a person who enters someone else’s property with the owner’s knowledge and consent, but for the licensee’s own purpose or interest. A door-to-door sales person is an example of a bare licensee because he or she has permission to enter onto the owner’s property, but is doing so for their own purpose (i.e., hoping to make a sale). The law says that a bare licensee must take the premises as he or she finds it. That means the property owner’s only obligation is to refrain from purposefully injuring the bare licensee and refrain from creating any new dangerous conditions without warning the bare licensee.
  • Trespasser – A trespasser is a person who enters someone else’s property without permission. The term trespasser is used in the law the same way it is used in everyday language. Because a trespasser does not have permission to be on the property, the property owner’s obligation to the trespasser is the lowest obligation of the four categories. The owner is only required to refrain from intentionally hurting the trespasser.

As you can see from reading the information above, premises liability cases require a strong understanding of the law. In addition to determining the legal status of the person who was injured, people who bring these lawsuits must also prove that the property owner failed to do something they should have done. Completing this task successfully requires a full investigation into the facts and circumstances of the injury, including how it happened, when it happened, what the owner should have done, what the owner should have known, how often the owner inspected for dangerous conditions, and what warnings were given to the injured person. The sooner this information can be determined, the better chance your case has.

After decades of experience, the lawyers at Bekman, Marder, Hopper, Malarkey & Perlin, L.L.C. have the resources and knowledge of the law necessary to fully investigate and pursue premises liability cases. If you or someone you know has been injured on someone else’s property, call us today for a free consultation and review of your potential case.