The Legal Duty You Are Owed by a Landowner in Virginia

By Bill O'Mara, Premises Liability Attorney

In a premises liability case, your rights are linked to whether you were entitled to be on a premises.

We know shoppers are entitled to be in the aisles of a store but if they are somewhere they are not entitled to be such as in a storage area, they do not benefit from the same rights if they are injured.


A landowner does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser, although the situation is slightly different with children.

The relationship between a landowner and someone who is on the property, falls into three main categories in Virginia.

1 An Invitee

Invitees are people who are invited to businesses. They are on the premises for the benefit of the business, so are offered the highest level of protection. Examples include shoppers at stores, dinners at restaurants and guests at hotels.

2 A Licensee

A licensee is a person who is at a business for his or her purposes such as a wholesaler or a delivery person. A licensee may be afforded less protection than an invitee if he or she is injured on a premises.

3 A Trespasser

If you are on land or in a building without permission to be there, you may be a “trespasser.” You are unlikely to be able to bring a premises liability action if you are hurt. An exception might be kids who stray onto a property to play and become injured if it’s not properly secured. A good example is a rail yard.

The question of why you are at a premises is pertinent to whether you have rights. Customers are vital to the success of a business and the owners or manager have a duty to protect them. However, a store owner does not expect someone to break in after hours, so owes no duty of care to a trespasser who may be hurt on a slippery floor.

If you or a loved one has had an accident at  premises, you should call out team at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at (757) 455-0077 or see

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