Property owners in Alabama have a duty to prevent foreseeable harm to individuals who come onto their property. The degree of care that landowners must use depends on the type of property in question and the relationship between the property owner and the person who comes on the property.
An invitee is a person who is invited onto property for business reasons which would include customers in a retail store. Property owners owe the highest degree of care to make sure invitees are safe from all foreseeable hazards. This includes a duty to inspect the property to discover unknown hazards like a spill on the floor.
Licensees are individuals who come onto a property for social purposes. This includes social guests as well as door-to-door salespersons who come to a home. Property owners only have a duty of reasonable care to protect licensees from harm which does not include a duty to inspect for unknown dangers.
Trespassers are those who come onto a property without permission. Even if a person has no legal right to be there, property owners must warn trespassers of conditions that are maintained by the landowner and likely to cause death or serious bodily harm when the trespasser is not likely to discover the dangerous condition on their own.
Premises liability is the legal theory that individuals who are injured on another person’s land may use to sue the property owner. One of the first things a plaintiff must prove in a premises liability case is that the landowner owed a duty of care to prevent harm based on the plaintiff’s status as an invitee, licensee or trespasser.
An attorney with experience handling premises liability cases may be able to help injured plaintiffs sue a landowner. An attorney may be able to help plaintiffs prove that a landowner knew or should have known of a dangerous condition on their land and should have taken steps to prevent foreseeable harm.