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Premises liability in Ohio: your rights depend on your status

We have in other posts discussed your right in general to compensation if you are injured on the property of another. This right depends in part on your legal status on that property at the time of our injury.

As premises liability law is a variation of the tort of personal injury, Ohio courts are an excellent source of guidance on how to define your status when you are on another's property. This status can be broken down into categories of invitees, social guests, licensees and trespassers, in the order of how much of a duty of care they are owed by the landowner.

Invitees: These are persons who are on the premises by invitation. The invitation may be expressed or implied, and is limited to that part of the property to which the invitation extends. The owner owes the invitee a duty to exercise ordinary care for the invitee's safety and protection. If the invitee goes outside of the area of invitation, then he or she becomes a trespasser or a licensee.

Social guests: The duty of the owner to social guests is to exercise care not to cause injury by any act or activity being carried on by the host while the guest is on the premises. If the social guest is unaware of a dangerous condition on the property that the host knows or reasonably should know about, then the owner must also warn the guest of such condition.

Licensees and trespassers: The duty of the landowner to these individuals is to refrain from willful, wanton or reckless conduct, which is likely to cause injury to them.

There are additional considerations beyond these basic categories. For example, children, even those who are trespassers, can be owed a greater duty of care than adults. There is also another classification of "recreational user" to whom the owner owes a lesser duty of care.

As you can see, what duty the property owner owes you to avoid injury will depend on how Ohio law defines your legal status on that property. That, in turn, depends on the facts of your specific situation. A personal injury law firm that practices in premises liability law can assist you in determining what your status was when you were injured, and what recovery may be available to you.

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