Homeowners in California could be held liable for any injuries that an entrant incurs on their property. The success or failure of a premises liability claim may depend, though, on the status of that entrant. The courts will likely focus on whether the entrant was an invitee, licensee or trespasser.
Invitees clearly have the right to compensation for injuries because the homeowner invited them. This could be an express invitation, such as the homeowner saying, “Please come in,” or an invitation suggested by the homeowner’s conduct. The customs and use of the premises may have to be taken into account to deem that an invitation was made. Regardless, homeowners have a duty to exercise ordinary care for the sake of such entrants.
A licensee is anyone permitted to be on the property although he or she has no contractual relation to the owner: for example, a social guest. Permission can be explicit or implicit. A homeowner’s duty in this case is to prevent any cases of wanton or willful injury.
Trespassers do have rights in certain situations. For example, they could have a legitimate claim against homeowners who deliberately lay out pitfalls or other traps to injure them. Homeowners who anticipate the presence of trespassers have a duty to keep these people from harm.
Before filing a premises liability claim, those injured on a residential property may want to consult a personal injury lawyer. The lawyer may be able to bring in investigators and medical experts to gather evidence of the property owner’s negligence and determine the extent of injuries. The lawyer may then assist with filing the claim and negotiating for a fair settlement. For premises liability claims in this state, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the incident.