What Constitutes You as an Invitee or a Trespasser in Florida?
When you are injured on someone else’s property, there will be a lot of questions about your behavior, and whether you did anything that may have contributed to your accident or your injuries. But there’s another question that is not as often asked: Who are you, and why were you on that property?
That’s because you may not realize it, but your status changes, depending on why you are on someone else’s property. Your relationship to whoever owns the property can go a long way to determining whether the Defendant is in fact responsible for your accident and injuries.
Who is an Invitee?
In most cases, when we are injured in a store, or a business’ premises, we are known as an invitee, or more specifically, a business visitor. That’s because although we weren’t extended a personal invitation, we were “invited” on the property to transact some sort of commerce with that business.
But it gets a bit more complex than that. Sometimes, we are allowed in someone’s business, but we’re not there for the reason that the business wants us there.
For example, imagine you run into a Starbucks to use their bathroom. Certainly, you aren’t trespassing—Starbucks was open, their bathrooms are open to the public (most of them are, at least), and there is no sign restricting who can use their bathrooms. On the other hand, Starbucks doesn’t want you or anybody just walking in to use their bathrooms; they are a coffee shop, not a public restroom.
In that case, you may be considered an uninvited licensee, although the business will argue you are just a trespasser. Uninvited licensees are not invitees nor trespassers because their presence is not sought after or restricted. Their presence, however, is tolerated or permitted by the landowner.
What About Trespassers?
The business wants you to be a trespasser, because businesses have almost no obligation to keep trespassers safe. Florida Statute 768.075(3)(b) says that all a business has to do is keep from purposefully or intentionally harming trespassers. That means in most cases, trespassers can’t sue for injuries sustained on someone else’s property.
Unless, of course, they are known trespassers. Known trespassers are trespassers that the property owner knows about, and accepts, or the business owner does nothing to get rid of. example, a store may allow neighborhood kids to skateboard through the parking lot. Known trespassers are similar to uninvited licensees, and the duty owed to both is the same. In those cases, the duty owed by property owners is to avoid wanton negligence or willful misconduct, not intentionally expose them to danger, and to warn of dangers known to the owner that are not open and obvious.
Sometimes, people inside of the store go from being an invitee to a trespasser, when they wander into areas that are for employees only. Imagine a shopper that goes into a stock room looking for staff help, or a customer that unknowingly thinks he or she is walking into a bathroom but is walking into an employee lounge area.
In these cases, the business may now owe a duty that is a bit more than just that of a trespasser.
In many premises liability cases, whether the business is liable for an injured person’s damages or not, is dependent on why that injured person was on the property and what his or her status was on the property. It’s an important question that should not be overlooked in your injury case.
Call the Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys at Rosen Injury Law today if you have questions about your accident or injuries.