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Legally speaking, who can be found on a store owner's property?

While many "mom and pop" type stores are becoming harder and harder to find in Middlesex County, Connecticut, the ones that are still in business bring a real sense of comfort and joy to their customers. But, these store owners, just like any chain store or franchise owner in the County, must always be aware of the premise liability risks on their property and what actions should be taken to prevent accidents. It's also important to understand how courts, insurance companies and legal representatives view the different types of individuals who enter a place of business and what a property owner's legal responsibility is to these people. Most courts, including those here in Connecticut, identify three main groups of people who might have reason to be on someone's property.

The first group of individuals is known as invitees. This category of people includes customers shopping at a business, as well as anyone else who has business dealings with the store owner, such as salesmen, contractors and suppliers. This group can also include anyone who is applying for a job at the location. Owners need to provide the highest degree of safety for these people, including inspecting and fixing any problems in any area where invitees may go.

The next category of visitors to a business is known as licensees. This group includes anyone who has entered a premise for social reasons and includes friends and family members. But, while owners need to make sure that their property is safe for these people, they are not required to institute the same level of safety that they would for invitees.

The last group of people who could find themselves on someone's property is trespassers. Most people know that trespassers are not supposed to be on an owner's property and are there illegally. But, while owners are not obliged to provide a safe environment for this group of people, the owner could find themselves liable for damages if the owner knows that people are trespassing on the property and also knows that there are hazardous conditions at the site.

It is important to realize that unlike adult trespassers, property owners must make sure that their property is safe for trespassing children. This is because children may be innocently unaware of the dangers at the site.

Source: www.realestate.findlaw.com, "Property owners' legal duty to prevent injury," April 27, 2015

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