If you suffered injuries in a slip and fall or other accident at a business or property, you may not realize that the type of guest you are matters to your claim for compensation. However, your status could be critical to the duty of care that a business or property owner owed you. This in turn can affect whether a breach of duty occurred and your right to compensation.
What Are the Three Types of Visitors in Virginia?
In Virginia, there are three types of visitors: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. A business’ or property owner’s duty to keep you safe from harm will be vastly different depending on what classification you fall under. Here is a summary of an owner’s duties to each type of guest:
- Invitee. An invitee is someone expressly or impliedly invited onto the property. For example, a homeowner specifically invites guests to visit. A business, such as a retail store or grocery story, impliedly invites customers to visit its store. An owner owes the highest duty of care to an invitee to use reasonable care to maintain the property in a reasonably safe condition and to warn guests of hidden dangers.
- Licensee. A licensee is a person who enters the property with the owner’s consent or permission but not for any business purpose of the owner. It is for the licensee’s benefit. For example, a salesperson could be allowed onto business property. An owner’s duty to a licensee is only to be responsible for active negligence or willful or wanton conduct. In addition, there are specific Virginia statutes that govern the duties of owners who allow certain licensees, such as fishermen, hunters, and hikers, onto their property without charging a fee.
- Trespasser. A trespasser is a person who enters the property of another without any right or permission. An owner owes the least duty to a trespasser. His duty is only to not intentionally or wantonly injure the trespasser. However, if a property owner has notice of the trespass because it so frequent and the danger to the trespasser is likely, the owner has a duty to look out for the trespasser. Special rules also apply if the trespasser is a child.
You need the assistance of an experienced accident injury attorney to determine your status as a guest and to pursue your claim for compensation. Even if you are an invitee, it can be challenging to prove the owner’s negligence and to obtain the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation to learn how our legal team can help you.