Premises Liability: Understanding the Obligations of Business Owners to Keep Customers Safe

If you are injured on someone else’s property or at a business, you should know your legal rights.  The basis for liability starts with the reason why you are on the property. Generally, there are three main classifications: licensees, invitees, and trespassers.

Trespassers are those who do not have consent to enter onto another’s property.  Licensees are people who visit a property for their own amusement, such as a guest at a party.  A business patron is typically classified as an invitee. For example, if you go to Wal-Mart to buy a pair of shoes and you are hurt on their premises, you are classified as a business invitee

The Law in Missouri

When an invitee is injured in Missouri, generally that person must prove that:

  • A dangerous condition existed on the premises;
  • The owner of the premises knew, or, through the use of ordinary care, could have known of the condition;
  • The owner failed to use ordinary care to remove, barricade, or warn of the danger, and
  • As a result of all of these elements, he or she was injured.

When a licensee is injured in Missouri, generally that person must prove that:

  • A dangerous condition existed on the premises;
  • The owner of the premises had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition and knew it was unsafe;
  • The owner knew or had information from which he, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known that persons such as the guest would not discover such condition or realize the risk or harm;
  • The owner failed to use ordinary care to either make the condition reasonably safe or adequately warn of it; and
  • As a direct result of such failure, the guest sustained damage.

In Missouri, in general, trespassers can only sue if they are children or, even if not children, the owner of the property is aware of constant trespassing.

For trespassing children, it must be proved that:

  • The possessor or owner maintained the condition that caused the injury;
  • The possessor or owner knew or had information from which he, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known that children would be exposed to such condition;
  • The possessor or owner knew or by using ordinary care could have known such condition presented an unreasonable risk of harm to children exposed to it;
  • Children, because of their youth, would not appreciate the risk of harm associated with such condition;
  • The possessor or owner failed to prevent the child from being exposed to such harm;
  • The possessor or owner was thereby negligent; and
  • As a direct result of such negligence, the child sustained damage.

If the owner of the property is aware of repeated trespassing on his property and someone is hurt while on the property, that person must prove that:

  • The owner knew or had information from which he, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known that trespassers constantly intruded on the area of property where the trespassing occured;
  • The owner maintained or created an artificial condition that caused the injury;
  • The owner knew that such condition was likely to cause death or serious bodily harm to trespassers;
  • The owner knew or had information from which he, in the exercise of ordinary care, should have known that trespassers would not discover such condition;
  • The owner failed to exercise ordinary care to warn such trespassers of the condition and risk involved; and
  • As a direct result of such failure, that person was injured.

What Does Ordinary Care Entail?

Missouri law generally requires property owners to use ordinary care to keep the premises safe for others.  Ordinary care is defined as “that degree of care that an ordinary careful person would use under the same or similar circumstances.”  

Always Ask an Experienced Injury Lawyer for Advice

Where you are hurt and how you are classified are critical when you sustain any type of injury on another’s property.  If you are injured on public property, such as a city-maintained sidewalk, or as a tenant at an apartment complex, you should be aware that other laws apply and what you must prove varies.  When you are hurt, always speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to determine what you must prove and how much time you have to sue.

At Ryan R. Cox & Associates, we believe that people have the right to a safe and well-maintained environment. When that doesn’t happen and injuries result, our team has the qualifications and experience in Missouri premises liability law to hold negligent business owners accountable. If you are hurt, contact us or call 636-946-6886 today for a free and confidential consultation.

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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