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Protecting your trespasser: the impact duty of care has on premises liability

As summer draws to a close, many homeowners may head out of town for one last getaway before the advent of the academic year. An extended weekend may prove relaxing, but if you own property with a pool or trampoline on its premises, you may be concerned about your liabilities when you are away. If you have been following our blog, you may have read our suggestions for promoting pool safety. In addition to remaining cognizant of your responsibilities as a homeowner on the premises, there may be considerations to keep in mind before you leave your home.

Within the past decade, the traditional interpretation of a homeowner's duty of care to entrants on his property has shifted toward a more simplified application. Previously, common law understanding of an owner's responsibility to maintain a safe environment relied on categories of visitor: licensees, invitees and trespassers. These groups typically mentioned refer to the relationship the homeowner has to the visitor.

1. Licensees-: This designation is given to individuals who are on the property due to the homeowner's wishes. The property owner consents to have them on the location. Guests attending a party at homeowner's house would fall into this category.

2. Invitees-: Home contractors or customers entering the property to serve the needs of the owner would fit the description of an invitee. The property owner invites them onto the property to fulfill a task. Painters or lawn service representatives would be located in this grouping.

3. Trespassers-: This class is concerned with those individuals not invited on the premises. They may be drawn to a home due to the presence of a pool or trampoline. In the past, homeowners were protected from lawsuits if they could prove they did not deliberately harm the trespasser.

As guests of the homeowner, licensees and invitees were afforded a higher level of protection than was provided for trespassers. Presently, in the state of New York, the difference among these classes has been abolished. This means that homeowners need to establish higher standards of safety for all entrants, even those who have not been welcomed onto the property.

If you have enticing attributes on your land, you may need to investigate the extra precautions you should take when you embark on your next vacation with your family.

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