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Overview of landowners' duties to others

As is the case in all other states, Indiana residents who own property, whether it is their private home, a farm or another business, owe those who come on to the property a certain obligation which the law calls a duty of care. Under premises liability laws, how much a landowner has to go out of their way to protect other people on the land depends on how and why the person came to be on the property in the first place.

Landowners do not owe a high duty of care to trespassers, or those who do not have permission to be on the property. A person who comes on to property without permission, for the most part, takes on the risk of suffering a personal injury as a result of hazards on the premises. That said, there are exceptions and limitations to this rule, and landowners do not have a right to intentionally harm people who come onto their property.

A landowner's duty of care is greater for two categories of people who do have permission to be on the property. These categories are known as licensees and invitees.

A licensee has some sort of permission to be on the property. For example, a cable repair person might have limited permission to be on a person's land, and might be categorized as a licensee. In such a case, the landowner has a duty to let the licensee know about hazardous conditions on the the property that the landowner knows about but that the licensee would not.

The thid category is known as an invitee. Because Indiana interprets invitee very broadly, most people who come on to a person's land fall under this status. Invitees not only include those whom a landowner explicitly asks to come on to their property, but also includes customers at businesses open to the public.

Generally speaking, landowners owe a duty to others to repair or warn against hazards that may injure people who come on their property. If they breach this duty, and someone is injured as a result, the injured may recover compensation for their damages through a personal injury lawsuit. If you have been injured on another person's property due to unsafe conditions, it can be important to speak to a personal injury attorney to learn about your options.

Source: Indiana Law Review, "Landowner or Occupier Liability for Personsl Injuries and Recreational Use Statutes: How Effective is the Protection?" John C. Becker, accessed April 28, 2017

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