As a property owner, you have the duty to keep your premises safe and free from any danger. By keeping your property hazard-free, you are securing not just your safety, but also the safety of your occupants and visitors. A Massachusetts personal injury attorney would probably tell you that unsafe premises may cause permanent injuries, and in most tragic cases, death. So, keeping your premises safe saves you from the trouble of being involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
But the degree of your responsibility depends mainly on how the injured visitor is classified. Let’s take a case of animal attack inside your premises as our problem situation. Dog bites account for a significant number of premises liability cases in the country. Your duty of care for a person attacked by your dog is as follows:
These are the people who you’ve invited to ‘gain’ something, such as a service. It could be your plumber, a contractor, or a guest that you have expressly invited for any lawful purpose, such as a business deal. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, as an owner, you have the duty to reasonably protect them from harm, so it should be your obligation to keep your dog away from your invited visitors (i.e. by placing it in the kitchen when your guests are in the living room).
Licensees are those who are permitted to be on the property, but have no contractual relationship whatsoever with the owner. They can be salesmen, fund raisers, neighbors who frequent your home, basically anyone who visits your home and are allowed to, but are not expressly invited. As an owner, you have the duty to warn them of the potential danger. In our case, it is your obligation to inform them that there is a dog in your home. It can also be your obligation to keep your pet under control.
Trespassers are those that are not allowed to enter your premises. As an owner, it is not your duty to inspect, fix, and warn of any dangers, including dogs. However, a homeowner cannot create an environment wherein they can be deliberately harmed (i.e. setting up traps to injure trespassers).