Businesses and other property owners owe a duty to those whom they invite onto their premises to keep and maintain a safe property. The level of care owed to a visitor depends in part on the relationship between the landowner and the guest. For example, a customer of a business is owed a more substantial duty than an unknown trespasser.
This duty is in place irrespective of the type of property, meaning that private property owners owe a duty, just as does the government, and so do non-profit organizations. In a recent case in front of a California appellate court, the court had an opportunity to discuss how far liability can extend in premises liability cases alleging that the landowner was negligent in the placement of a parking lot.
Vasilenko v. Grace Family Church: The Facts
Grace Family Church was located on a busy five-lane highway. Since the church’s parking lot would often fill up, the church arranged to use another parking lot across the highway when the primary lot filled. While parking attendants were present in both lots to direct traffic, there was no one available to assist churchgoers in crossing the busy five-lane highway to get back to the church from the parking lot.