Levels of Duty in Premises Liability Cases in Virginia
If you get hurt on another person’s property, you may be able to sue the property owner and other parties by filing a premises liability lawsuit.
However, the fact you have been hurt on someone else’s property does not mean you have an automatic right to sue.
In the new book Top Ten Tips If You Are Injured At a Store, Hotel or Restaurant in Virginia, written with my colleague Bill O’Mara, I look at the different duties owned by landowners in these cases.
There are three main classifications in Virginia. They are:
1 An invitee – an invitee is someone who is invited to a business for the benefit of the business, such as a shopper in a store. An invitee is owed the highest level of protection under the law. To hold a landowner liable for a hidden unsafe condition of a premises, it must be shown that the landowner knew of the unsafe condition or that the condition existed long enough to make it the landowner’s duty to have discovered it in the exercise of ordinary care
2. A licensee – A licensee is someone who visits a business for his or her own purposes, such as a personal who is delivering goods. He or she may have less protection under the law in the case of an injury, than an invite.
Virginia Code § 29.1-509 sets out the duty of care and limitations of liability
for landowners to fishermen, hunters and sightseers, who are given permission to enter the
premises. This statutory duty and limitation of liability for the landowner most closely resembles
the duties owed by the landowner to a licensee. The activities in question include fishing, hunting, trapping, camping, water sports, boating, hiking, bicycle riding or collecting, gathering, cutting or removing firewood, and any other recreational use,
3. A trespasser – If you are injured on someone’s land when you do not have permission to be there, you may be a “trespasser.” A trespasser will seldom be able to claim for injuries because he or she was not lawfully on property. The landowner does not owe a duty of foreseeing or preparing for the frequent trespasser. However, the law recognizes that children who trespass in dangerous areas such as railroads, may have grounds to bring premises liability actions if a landowner or an operator has been lax in securing a dangerous site.
The strength of your premises liability case could hinge on how and why you are at an establishment. If you have been hurt on another’s premises, you should talk to our Virginia premises liability attorneys at 757.582.1836.