What is an Invitee and How it Matters for Your Business
An invitee is any person that a property owner invites onto his or her property for the purpose of doing business. This invitation may be either explicit or implicit. A contractor inviting a client to his office would be an example of an explicit invitation, whereas a customer at a restaurant would be an implicit invitation, as the store “invites” customers to come onto the property by remaining open and accepting visitors.
A property owner has the highest level of duty to his invitees; it is his or her responsibility to ensure that they are free from harm. The property owner may be held liable if an invitee is injured on his property and the following conditions are met:
- The risk of injury is unreasonable. That is, if a reasonable person would eliminate the risk, then it is considered unreasonable. A large quantity of spilled liquid remaining on a tiled floor for hours at a time could be considered an unreasonable risk, and a property owner could be held liable for any injury that occurs as a result. However, a building struck by a tornado would not be considered an unreasonable risk; no reasonable property owner could ever fully ensure that his premises are protected from a direct tornado strike.
- The property owner knows (or should know) of the risk. If in the usual course of reasonable and ordinary care, the property owner discovers a risk and fails to act upon it, this criterion is fulfilled. Additionally, if the property owner did not discover the risk but a reasonable person should have, this criterion is fulfilled as well.
Invitees and Injuries
What kind of injuries might happen to an invitee on your property?
The most common kind of injury is a slip and fall. If someone falls on your property you may or may not be responsible for resulting medical bills and damages. It depends on why the person fell and whether you were aware (or should have been aware) of the danger.
In locations where products are stored up high, another common risk for injuries involves an item falling and hitting a person on the head or elsewhere on the body.
Still other injuries can result from malfunctioning equipment, such as an elevator, or improper handling of food in a restaurant.
The main thing to remember is that if you are a business and you invite people into your property, you need to make certain that your property is safe. If you fail in your duties towards your customers, you may end up liable if someone should be injured.