Understanding your visitor classification

When accidents occur on private property in Missoula, the common assumption is that the property owner is liable. That is what many of those that we here at Terrazas Henkel, P.C. have worked with come to us believing. If you share the same assumption, then you should know that your status on another’s property plays a significant role in determining the duty of care that a property owner owes to you. 

How do you determine your status? Typically, you know whether or not you are welcome on another’s property. Still, according to Insurance Regulatory Law, there are specific distinctions defining different types of visitors (as well as how far a property owner must go to protect them). These are: 

  • Trespassers
  • Licensees
  • Invitees

If you are trespassing, then you are on a property without the owner’s permission. He or she is not obliged to protect you from any hazards or dangers that might naturally occur on his or her property. At the same time, however, he or she cannot create any artificial hazards that might injure or harm you. 

If you enter on to a property for the purpose of conducting business, then you are licensee. As is the case with trespassers, property owners are not obliged to warn you of any naturally occurring dangers. Yet he or she must keep the property free of any known hazards (or at the very least, protect you from them). 

Invitees are owed the highest duty of care by property owners. If you have been invited on to a property (either expressly or through implication), the owner must do all that he or she can to ensure your safety while there. More information on property owner liability can be found here on our site.