Schemery Zicolello

Property owners' duty to invitees

Pennsylvania residents often rely on stores and public places to get things that they need. Without retail shopping center, grocery stores, restaurants and similar facilities people wouldn't have the same quality of life. However, going to these places can sometimes cause serious injuries if the facilities are not properly maintained.

Under premises liability laws, people who are invited to a property for business reasons are called invitees. Under the law, businesses have a high duty of care to invitees. This means that the businesses have the responsibility to take affirmative steps to protect people that visit their property for business reasons -- including job applicants and customers.

This duty includes the duty to correct known hazards to keep people safe. This could mean, for example, that a grocery store has the duty to clean up spilled liquids to avoid a slip-and-fall accident. However, the law goes further than this and requires property owners to try to uncover and correct unknown hazards to invitees. This means that property owners can be held responsible for accidents that occur as a result of unknown dangers.

Under premises liability laws, however, property owners only need to take reasonable steps to discover hidden hazards. Reasonable steps are steps that would have been taken by an ordinary person under the same circumstances.

Therefore, under these rules, property owners are responsible for making sure people are kept safe while on their property. If people are hurt, then the property owner could be held financially responsible. These rules can become complicated and therefore those who have been injured in a public place should make sure to seek help in understanding their legal rights.

Source:, "Property Owners' Legal Duty to Prevent Injury," accessed Sept. 15, 2014

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