You have been injured on someone else’s property in Connecticut. Is the possessor of that property liable for your injuries? It depends. The duty owed by the possessor of that land or property to you depends on your status as either an invitee, licensee or trespasser.
If you enter onto the property of another at the direct or indirect invitation of the property owner or possessor, you are an invitee. There are two types of invitees:
- Public invitee: You were invited to enter or remain on land as a member of the public for a purpose for which the land is open to the public, i.e., a concert in the park or using a public sidewalk.
- Business invitee: You were invited to enter or remain on the land for a purpose directly or indirectly connected with business dealings with the possessor of land, i.e., shopping at a department store.
As an invitee, the possessor of land owes you the following duties:
- Make reasonable inspections of the premises and provide safeguards to make the property reasonably safe;
- Maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition; and
- Warn you of dangers that you could not reasonably be expected to discover. However, the duty to warn does not arise if you have actual knowledge of a dangerous condition.
If you have permission from the property owner or possessor to be on the property, but your visit is for personal reasons rather than for business or public purposes, you are a licensee.
As a licensee, the owner or possessor of land:
- May not intentionally harm or lay a trap for you;
- Must provide due care after your presence is actually or constructively known;
- Must warn you of dangerous hidden hazards actually known to him.
There is no duty owed for open and obvious conditions.
If you have no right or permission from the property owner or possessor to enter or remain on the land, you are a trespasser.
The owner or possessor of land owes no duty to you if you are trespassing; however, he may not intentionally injure or lay a trap for you. The duty owed increases once your presence becomes known.
Possession and Control
Liability for injuries for defective premises does not depend on who owns legal title, but rather on who has possession and control. Liability without possession and control can also attach where an independent duty exists.
In the landlord-tenant context, a landlord owes a duty of reasonable care as to those parts of the property over which the landlord has retained control … Landlords do not have a duty to keep in repair any portion of the premises leased to and in the exclusive possession and control of another.
Possession and control is not, however, the only basis for liability. A duty of care may arise from a contract, statute, or circumstances under which a reasonable person, knowing what he knew or should have known, would anticipate harm of the general nature of that suffered was likely to result from his act or failure to act.
Notice – Should the Possessor Have Known About the Hazardous Condition
For you to recover for a defective condition causing injury in Connecticut, you must prove that the land possessor had either (a) actual notice, or (b) constructive notice of the defect. As to constructive notice, the question is whether the defective condition existed for such a length of time that the owner or possessor of land should have discovered and remedied it.
Notice, whether actual or constructive, must be of the specific defect which caused the injury and not merely of conditions that may produce such a defect despite subsequently in fact producing it.
If you have been injured in Connecticut due to a premises defect, or have questions about liability or duty of care owed, call the experienced Connecticut premises attorneys at The APEX Law Firm in Hartford County at (860) 900-0900 to schedule a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer today, or visit us online at uptonlegal.com.
Written by Attorney Toney Pignatiello