Does Premises Liability Apply to Friends or Family Members in Kansas City?

If you’ve been injured at a friend or family member’s house, you may have questions about who is responsible for your medical expenses. If your accident happened while you were a guest on your friend or family member’s property, they may be legally liable for your injuries.

Understanding how Missouri handles premises liability cases can help you know if you should seek out the advice of a personal injury lawyer. If you’re uncertain, a good personal injury attorney can help you decide if you have grounds for a premises liability case. An experienced attorney will also be able to help you navigate a potentially sticky situation with friends or family.

Property Owner Responsibility

Broadly speaking, a property owner has a responsibility to maintain their property in a way that is safe for invited visitors. That applies to both business and private property.

Missouri places a burden of reasonable care on property owners. That means that they are expected to take reasonable steps to protect guests from predictable harm while the guests are on their property, but guests are still responsible for taking reasonable personal safety precautions.

For example, if a property owner puts up a barrier around a hazard and marks it as unsafe, but a guest climbs through the barriers and injures themself, the property owner would not be held liable, since a reasonable person could be expected to respect those warnings to avoid personal injury.

Since premises liability cases generally involve recovering losses resulting from an injury, it’s probably worth your time to hire a good personal injury lawyer if you were injured on someone else’s property, even if it involves friends and family. When it comes to financial matters, it can be extremely difficult to approach someone you are close to when they are responsible for your pain, but a good personal injury attorney has experience navigating personal relationships to get the compensation you deserve.

Understanding Premises Liability Cases

In Missouri, premises liability lawsuits are adjudicated with reference to both comparative fault and negligence, meaning the actions of both the plaintiff and the defendant are considered when assigning fault for an accident. Premises liability claims involve situations where property owners are held liable for injuries that occur on their property, whereas personal injury cases involve someone’s actions or negligence that caused harm.

Comparative Negligence

Under the comparative negligence system, both the plaintiff and dependent often carry some part of the responsibility for an accident. The relative fault and negligence are assessed and used to establish what proportion of the liability is assigned to each party.

Missouri operates under the concept of pure comparative fault. This means that, even if the injured person is 99% responsible for their injury, they can recover compensation for damages resulting from the 1% of fault that is assigned to the defendant.

Typically, fault and/or negligence are assigned proportionally, and the damages that are awarded in the case are adjusted based on those calculations.

Visitors’ Legal Status

A property owner’s legal responsibility in a premises liability lawsuit depends on the legal status of the injured party. There are three primary classes of visitors to someone’s property, and they typically carry differing duties of care, and resulting liability, for the property owner.


If a person is on someone’s property uninvited, they are considered to be a trespasser until they are invited onto the property. A property owner is unlikely to be held liable for injuries to trespassers since they would be unlikely to have knowledge of the trespassers’ presence and have minimal ability to warn them of hazardous conditions.

There are exceptions to the liability assignment for trespassers. If children are harmed by dangerous conditions that are not part of the natural landscape, and if the property owner knew that children would likely trespass in that place, the property owner may be liable for injuries that happen there.

If it is well known that there is an area that is consistently trespassed, like on a well-used trail through the property, the owner may not be shielded by the trespassers’ status unless they clearly signpost No Trespassing. If the property owner either provides inadequate maintenance to the area or deliberately adds artificial conditions that could harm people, they can be held liable even though the visitors are uninvited and unwanted on private property.


If a property owner has given a visitor permission to be on their property outside of business purposes, they are designated licensees. Invited guests outside of business relationships are generally categorized as licensees under Missouri premises liability law, including friends and family.

If you are invited onto someone’s property, the property owner’s liability is much higher. The property owner has a responsibility to warn visitors of any dangerous conditions they might encounter while on the property. They must exercise reasonable care to ensure the safety of their invited guests.

Once the guests have been warned, however, the property owner is not likely to be held liable for injuries that result from their guests disregarding the warnings. The property owner must still exercise reasonable care but does not need to actively safeguard their guests after safety precautions have been implemented on the property.


Invitees are typically invited to a property for a specific reason that benefits the owner. Business customers are typically classified as invitees. Other examples would include a church congregation, delivery workers, inspectors, and meter readers.

The liability to a property owner is highest for invitees. They are legally required to take steps to resolve potentially dangerous situations and to maintain the property in a condition that is unlikely to lead to injury.

Property Condition

A property owner owes invitees and licensees a reasonably safe environment while they are on their property. This means that the property owners must maintain their property so that dangerous conditions are clearly marked and/or promptly repaired.

Maintenance of the Property

Maintenance to prevent hazardous conditions from inclement weather or other uncontrollable circumstances must be both timely and effective to minimize risk to guests. Slip and fall cases are among the most common premises liability cases, often resulting from poorly-maintained walkways.

Uneven walkways are a known hazard. Many guests will struggle to navigate an uneven walkway, particularly children and elderly people who are more vulnerable to trip and fall injuries. Wet floors after a rainstorm are both predictable and easily remedied before someone is injured, so if a property owner failed to take action to resolve the dangers, they would be left open to a personal injury case.

Slip and fall accidents are common premises liability cases precisely because they are easily prevented, and negligence can often be easily demonstrated when owners don’t provide adequate maintenance. An experienced attorney can quickly assess whether or not an owner took reasonable care to prevent injuries and decide if legal action is warranted.

Possession of the Property

If a property owner doesn’t have primary control of the space, as in the case of landlords and tenants, they may not be held liable under Missouri law. It depends on the nature of the occupancy agreement, which should stipulate where the responsibility for property maintenance lies. If the responsible party, whether it is the owner or the tenant, does not maintain the property for its intended use, they will likely be liable for any resulting injuries.

Swimming Pool Accidents

Swimming pool accidents are some of the most tragic and traumatic premises liability lawsuits. Because these premises liability cases often involve children, there is a higher level of liability associated with maintaining a swimming pool so it is safe for visitors, especially children.

Swimming pools are designated an “attractive nuisance” because they attract children into dangerous situations and require more safety measures than normal to prevent serious injury. These measures may include a safety fence with a secure gate, proper supervision when the pool is in use, clearly posted warning signs, and proper maintenance.

If a property owner fails to take reasonable precautions around a pool and a serious accident happens on their property, they would very likely be liable for the outcome. A pool without a fence and self-closing gate may be considered a dangerous condition, in and of itself, offering an unreasonable risk to children simply by its easy access.

Dog Bites

Dog bite cases fall under strict liability law in Missouri. This means that the dog owner, rather than the property owner, will be held responsible if their dog bites a person without provocation and the bite occurs on either public or private land while the dog owner is a licensee or invitee. It does not matter if the dog has a history of biting or if the bite that caused the personal injury lawsuit is the first.

Liability in dog bite cases includes damages suffered by the injured person (including medical expenses, lost income, pain, disability, and suffering) and any damage caused by dogs to property or livestock. However, if the injured person provoked the dog, that would be considered in reducing the dog owner’s liability, and partial liability may be assigned to each party depending on the specific circumstances.

When Should I Get an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney?

The best thing you can do if you’ve been injured on someone else’s property, even if it’s a friend or family, is to contact a premises liability attorney as soon as possible after you have received medical care. One of the most important components of successful personal injury cases is being able to determine what caused the injury and establish fault or possible negligence early in the process.

Make It Easier to Establish the Facts

It’s crucial to interview witnesses while the incident is still fresh in their memory to avoid conflicting stories, especially when there may be minimal physical evidence. A good personal injury attorney can help protect you by getting those statements on file early in the process.

It’s also vital to quickly document the environment where the injury occurred because it is the property owner’s duty to quickly remedy anything that caused your injury and avoid future accidents. However, those repairs will very likely make it more difficult to establish negligence for your premises liability case.

Statute of Limitations

In Missouri, the statute of limitations on personal injury cases (which includes premises liability cases) is five years.

It can take time to investigate your injury and establish liability, which must happen before a premises liability claim can be filed. Your personal injury lawyer and their team will need time to put your case together, so you don’t want to wait too long and risk your time to file running out.

Let Your Attorney Negotiate with Family and Friends

If friends or family are unwilling to take care of an injured person’s legal damages, the negotiation process can be extremely complicated. Allowing a good and compassionate attorney to handle them for you can help to reduce long-term damage to your relationships.

An attorney is much less likely to bring personal issues into things and can keep the conversations on topic and productive. They will be better able to objectively assess the defendant’s negligence and protect your legal rights.

Let Your Attorney Handle the Insurance Company

Often, the settlement will be negotiated through their property insurance policy, so the financial impact on your friends and family in the short term is likely to be capped at their deductible, although their insurance premiums may go up over time. But property insurance exists precisely for this sort of situation, and your attorney can help you ensure that any damages you’ve suffered are fairly compensated, medical bills paid, and lost wages recovered.

If you’re struggling with an injury you received while you were a guest at a friend or family member’s house and don’t know what to do, let our team of compassionate and dedicated premises liability attorneys help. Contact Wendt Law Firm P. C. at 816-542-6734 today to schedule a free consultation.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.