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Visitor's status can determine rights in premises liability case

When a person calls up their friend and asks the friend come over to their house for dinner, the friend may be considered an invitee into the home of the person hosting them for a meal. Situations like this happen each day in Fairfax, but interactions between property owners and others do not end at these straightforward pleasantries. If a person visits a store to buy goods, are they considered an invitee at the store? Or does their status as a visitor change because they were not specifically requested to come to the property owner's building? This post will explore the different statuses individuals may have when they visit properties and how those statuses can change their rights if they are harmed in premises liability accidents.

As discussed in this post's introduction, an invitee is a person who is openly invited onto the property of another person. Individuals who shop in grocery stores and other retail shops are also invitees, because the properties they visit openly invite shoppers to peruse and purchase their goods.

If a person is aware of an event and chooses to attend it on another's property then their status may change from invitee to licensee. A licensee is a person who chooses to enter another person's property for their own purposes, and though they may not have an explicit invitation from the property owner, they have the consent of the owner in general to be at the location.

Finally, a person may be considered a trespasser if they do not have the invitation or consent of the property owner to be on their property. Visitors are afforded more protection under premises liability law the more their presence on the property is connected to the will and intent of the property owner. As such, invitees are afforded more protections than licensees who are afforded more protections than trespassers.

Although property owners must take steps to protect those who come onto their land, the actions of the visitors, regardless of their status, may influence the outcome of a premises liability case if the injured visitor's actions influenced the creation of their harm. Readers are encouraged to use this post as an informational start to a complex legal topic, and consult with legal professionals about their specific premises liability inquiries.

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