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How can a homeowner’s liability vary based on the visitor?


Homeowners are often liable for the injuries that take place on their property. There are some exceptions, though, especially when it comes to the type of visitor on the property. There are three types of visitors who could be in a home: invitees, trespassers, and licensees.

It’s the homeowner’s responsibility to make sure that people who enter the property are not subject to preventable safety hazards. For instance, if the homeowner invites a person onto the property and he trips on damaged walkways, the homeowner could be held liable for his injuries. Why? Because it was his responsibility to keep those walkways cleared and in good repair.

Trespassers can also make claims against homeowners if they’re hurt on the property, surprisingly enough. Here’s the difference, though. With trespassers, the responsibility of the homeowner is to make sure that he’s not attempting to hurt the trespasser in any way. He can’t lawfully create a covered hole in the garden, for instance, and expect the person to get hurt without repercussions.

The final kind of visitor is a licensee. This is a person who has the homeowner’s permission, even if they weren’t expressly invited. This person also will have no contractual relationship with the homeowner. A good example of a licensee is someone who stops by for a chat as an acquaintance.

Social visitors are owed protection from harm due to a lack of property repair or other such issues that the owner should be aware of. Normally, the homeowner can only be held responsible for injuries that were caused willfully in these cases.

People who have suffered an injury on someone’s Massachusetts property may benefit from getting some legal guidance to help determine what options they have.

Source: FindLaw, “Homeowner Liability: Invitees, Licensees, and Trespassers – See more at: http://realestate.findlaw.com/owning-a-home/homeowner-liability-invitees-licensees-and-trespassers.html#sthash.faIq1RMy.dpuf,” accessed May. 13, 2015


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