If you suffer an injury in a slip-and-fall, dog attack, swimming pool accident or other premises-related incidents in Pennsylvania, you may have grounds for a civil claim. A successful lawsuit could result in payment for your economic and noneconomic damages.
Your potential eligibility to bring a claim depends on your status or classification as a visitor to the property. Landowners owe different duties of care to different people based on the circumstances of the visit. Three types of property visitors exist in Pennsylvania.
An invitee is a person the landowner expressly or implicitly invites to enter or stay on the property. Invitees visit for the benefit of the landowner, with the owner’s permission. Examples of invitees include customers to a business or social guests. Property owners owe three main duties of care to invitees:
- Inspect the premises for hidden hazards
- Repair known property defects
- Warn of potential dangers
Property owner negligence that results in injury to an invitee could be grounds for a lawsuit, as long as the injured party acts within Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations. If the owner failed to uphold his or her duties of care, resulting in preventable accidents and injuries, the owner is accountable for damages.
A licensee also has the landowner’s permission to enter the property but does so for the licensee’s respective purposes. Examples of licensees include contractors, construction workers and salespeople. Property owners still owe duties of care to licensees, but not as many as to invitees. An owner does not have to inspect for unknown or hidden hazards before allowing a licensee to enter the property.
A trespasser is someone who enters a property without the owner’s consent or permission. A landowner does not owe any duties of care to a trespasser, except not to intentionally cause the trespasser harm. If the trespasser is a child under 18, however, the landowner has a duty to maintain reasonably safe premises.