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What is a property owner's duty to prevent accidents?

Last week, we discussed an incident that injured five people at Bryant Park. If your recall, a tree fell and injured people who were visiting the park. That post is a good reminder that property owners have a legal duty to take appropriate steps to prevent injuries. When a person is injured on another person's property, the person who was injured might be interested in seeking compensation. One of the points that has to be covered when seeking compensation is the victim's status on the property at the time of the accident.

Was the victim a child?

If the victim was a child, the legal doctrine of attractive nuisances comes into the picture. A property owner has a legal duty to prevent children from being injured because of items on the property that entice the child, but are unsafe for the child to use without supervision. A swimming pool is an example of an attractive nuisance. While the property owner doesn't have to childproof their property, they do have to make sure that any hazards they know could hurt a child are properly secured.

What if the victim is allowed to be on the property?

People who are invited onto the property, such as customers at a grocery store or friends who are attending a social event, are considered either licensees or invitees. Property owners have a legal duty to ensure their property is safe for both invitees and licensees who visit their property.

What the victim a trespasser?

Generally, property owners don't have a special duty to ensure that their property is safe for trespassers. An important point here is that the property owner can't place hazards on the property, such as booby traps, just to harm a trespasser.

If you were injured on another person's property, exploring your options for seeking compensation is the first step you should take after you seek medical care. Compensation to help cover your medical bills and other related expenses might take some of the financial burden off of you and your loved ones.

Source: FindLaw, "Property Owners' Legal Duty to Prevent Injury," accessed Sep. 20, 2015

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