An Owner's Duty of Care in a California Premises Liability Case

Property owners and even managers have certain duties to anyone who enters their homes or buildings. There are three classes of guests: invitees, licensees, and trespassers. 

Although California civil courts no longer rely on these categories to establish the owner’s or manager’s duty to protect anyone from hazardous conditions on the premises, these classes help determine if the defendant’s actions were reasonable. Essentially, property owners are liable for any person they injure on their property due to negligence or any defects on the premises. 


An invitee is someone that the owner invites to enter the property for business purposes, such as patrons at a restaurant or shoppers at a retail store. Individuals who are invited onto public property are also invitees. 

Owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. They are required to regularly inspect the premises before welcoming invitees, identify all hazards on the premises that any other reasonable owner or manager would discover, and repair the condition or warn guests if the repair is not reasonably possible. This implies that owners and managers can be liable for dangerous conditions that they are not actually aware of. 


Licenses are considered social guests, such as a friend or a neighbor. Since these guests do not provide an economic benefit to the owner, the duty of care is not as high as an invitee. 

Owners are not required to inspect the property for any dangerous conditions. Rather, they must repair any defects or hazards or otherwise warn guests about such conditions if correcting the issue is not reasonably possible. 


Since trespassers enter the premises without an owner’s consent, the owner is not held liable for any injuries caused by hazardous conditions that he/she is unaware of. However, owners must provide warnings of dangerous conditions if they have reason to believe trespassers could suffer injury by such conditions. In addition, they can be held liable for intentionally causing injury to trespassers. 

If you or a loved one has been injured on someone else’s property in Pasadena, contact our skilled premises liability attorney at Tedford & Associates today at (626) 325-0142 for a free initial consultation. Get nearly four decades of legal experience on your side! 


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