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What duty of care do property owners owe you?

| Jul 9, 2021 | Blog, Premises Liability |

After slipping, falling and sustaining an injury in Maryland, the issue of liability may seem fairly clear to you: the owner of the property on which you fell. Yet as is the case with almost all legal matters, pursuing a claim brings on a number of complexities.

Those complexities typically revolve around the duty of care the property owner owes to you. That duty depends on your status as a visitor on their property. That status is not as simple as whether you believed you had permission to be on that property or not. Indeed, actual legal classifications exist that detail such statuses.

Visitor classifications in Maryland

According to local state court rulings, Maryland follows common law classifications for visitors. These classifications (along with their definitions) include:

  • Invitees: You are an invitee if you visit a property for a commercial reason (either by direct invitation or by visiting a business location open to the general public)
  • Licensees: You are a licensee if you visit a property for non-commercial reasons (such as for a social visit)
  • Bare licensee: You are a bare licensee if you visit a property for personal reasons with the property owner’s permission but not necessarily having any contact with the owner (such as in response to a commercial solicitation)
  • Trespasser: You are a trespasser if you enter a person’s property unlawfully (without permission)

The duty owed to different visitors

If you are an invitee or a licensee, the property owner must exercise all reasonable care in protecting you from any hazards (both obvious and unforeseen) on their land. If you are a bare licensee or a trespasser, the property may not owe you a direct duty of care, but they cannot do anything to wantonly endanger or injure you.