Detailing a property owner’s duty of care

It may be difficult for a reasonably healthy, able-bodied adult in State College to completely comprehend the health risks posed by falls (particularly ground-level falls). Such a person may think that the only thing at risk of injury in such an incident is one’s pride. Yet while it is true that the demographic most at-risk of suffering a serious injury from a fall is the elderly, this does not mean that slip-and-fall accidents cannot cause problems for people of any age.

Indeed, according to information shared by the National Floor Safety Institute, slip-and-fall cases account for over one million emergency room visits every year, with fractures being the most common result of such accidents. The treatment and recuperative costs of such an injury can often be substantial, prompting many to seek legal action against those responsible for their accidents.

What is a “duty of care?”

Typically liability for slip-and-fall injuries falls to the owners of properties where the injury occurred. Yet the degree of their liability may depend on the duty of care they owe to people on their properties. A duty of care is the responsibility one has to care for others, be it expressed or implied. In the case of a property owner, that duty is typically implied.

Protecting invitees, licensees and even trespassers

Per information shared by the Unified Justice System of Pennsylvania, the classifications of guests on a person’s property include:

  • Invitees: Those invited onto the property
  • Licensees: Those on a property to perform a service
  • Trespassers: Those on a property without permission

In general, a property owner must exercise all care to protect invitees from any hazards (apparent or potential) on their land. They must notify licensees of any potential dangers (and correct issues that a simple inspection would uncover). The duty owed to trespassers is simply to not deliberately harm them.