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Duty of Care: What Property Owners in St. Louis Need to Ensure

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What Are the Duties of an Owner to Those on Their Property?

In St. Louis, property owners have a legal obligation to build and maintain their premises in a way that ensures the safety of visitors. If a property owner does not uphold their responsibilities and a visitor is injured due to a dangerous condition, they could face a civil lawsuit for the losses the victim has experienced. Premises liability cases are often complicated, and the specific nature of the owner’s legal duty of care to the injured individual can frequently be a point of contention. A knowledgeable Missouri premises liability attorney can examine the details of your case and determine whether you have grounds to pursue compensation.

How Does the Status of a Visitor to a Property Impact the Duty of Care Owed to Them By the Property Owner?

A duty of care is a responsibility to act in a reasonably conscientious manner to protect the well-being and health of others. In some states, such as California, the duty of care legally required of a property owner or manager remains the same regardless of the reason for an individual’s presence on the property. However, in most states, including Missouri, the extent of the property owner’s duty of care is determined by the status of the visitor. Missouri classifies visitors into three categories based on their purpose for entering the property.


Licensees are people allowed on the property by the owner for non-business purposes. In Missouri, this category includes social guests whom the owner has directly invited. Licensees can also be present due to an implied invitation to the property. For example, unless explicitly told otherwise, mail carriers and delivery drivers are assumed to have the owner’s consent to enter their property to accomplish their work duties. The duty of care owed to licensees includes:

  • Making safe any dangers that the owner is aware of, which may include fixing the issue or placing blockades to keep people out of the potentially harmful location until it can be remedied.
  • Cautioning licensees about known hazards through verbal or posted warnings.

The owner is not required to thoroughly inspect for or repair hidden dangers to protect the licensee. However, if a hazard exists on the property that should be obvious to the owner but would not be easily discovered by the licensee, then the owner could be held liable for any resulting injuries if they did not warn the licensee.


Invitees are individuals invited onto the property by the owner for business purposes that benefit both parties, such as customers in a store or diners in a restaurant. Visitors to public or community spaces during regular hours of operation may also be considered invitees. However, if the owner has allowed the individual onto their land for recreational use as part of a state-administered recreational access or wildlife management program without charging a fee, the individual is not granted the status of an invitee and is not given any assurance that the property is safe, according to Missouri Statute 537.347

The highest duty of care is owed to invitees. This includes the responsibility to:

  • Protect the invitee from known dangers on the premises.
  • Conduct regular inspections to identify potential hazards.
  • Repair any dangerous conditions, block access to hazardous areas, or provide adequate warnings to invitees about the risks.


Trespassers are defined as individuals who enter a property without the owner’s permission. Under Missouri state law, property owners do not owe a duty of care to trespassers except to refrain from intentionally, wantonly, or willfully causing them harm. However, in some situations, a property owner could be legally responsible for injuries sustained by a trespasser.

Child trespassers, in particular, are given unique protections because they lack the knowledge and awareness to recognize property boundaries or dangers. When a property owner has an “attractive nuisance” on their land that could entice a child to explore the location, such as an unsecured swimming pool or an abandoned building, they must take reasonable care to eliminate the danger it poses. A property owner could also be held liable for injuries or death if they knew or should have known that people regularly trespass on a portion of their property where a hazardous artificial condition exists. In these cases, a property owner should warn the trespasser of the risks of entering by posting signs or taking other reasonable measures to alleviate the chances of harm.

What Damages Could You Recover if You’ve Been Injured on Someone Else’s Property?

Property owners must understand their legal obligations and take necessary steps to ensure their property is safe to minimize the risk of accidents. Property owners who fail to meet their duty of care in St. Louis may face several consequences, primarily in the form of legal liability for any injuries that occur on their property due to their negligence. If a visitor is injured because the property owner did not uphold their duty of care, the owner can be held liable in a premises liability lawsuit.

In such lawsuits, the injured party (plaintiff) must prove that the property owner (defendant) breached their duty of care and that this breach directly caused the plaintiff’s injuries. If the plaintiff is successful, the property owner may be required to pay compensation for various damages, including:

  • Medical bills
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation costs
  • Lost wages
  • Lowered earning capacity
  • Reduced quality of life
  • Pain and suffering
  • Amputation and permanent disfigurement

In cases of wrongful death resulting from the property owner’s negligence, the owner may also face claims for funeral and burial costs. They could also be required to compensate the decedent’s spouse and children for the loss of companionship and support they’ve suffered as a result of the incident.

How Can an Experienced Lawyer Assist You?

A property owner has a duty to keep you safe from harm if you have been explicitly or implicitly invited onto their premises. However, the exact extent of that duty can vary depending on whether you are visiting the location for business or personal purposes. In any event, if you’ve been injured due to a negligent or careless St. Louis property owner, it’s vital to promptly contact an experienced premises liability lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the incident and uphold your rights. To schedule a free case review, contact Jett Accident & Injury Lawyers today at 314-501-9509.

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