Most of the legal law regarding real estate originates in the Norman conquest of England in 1066. When William declared that all English land now belonged to the French monarch, the concept of estates was created. These estates were governed through common law, and brought to the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada through Great Britain's imperial expansion. The traditional liabilities a landowner faced with vistiors to an estate were broken into three categories, dependant on the visitor's status.
The three different traditional categories of a vistor were classified as a trespasser (a visitor of which the owner has no knowledge and was not invited), a licensee (a social guest) or an invitee (a guest with a commercial or business interest in the property). These traditional categories have been modified, however, in modern legal law. Many of the changes in real property law regarding liability are simply defined by the inclusion and adoption of common law principles into the written statutes of legal law. In effect, the principles of the common law are merely codified by statutes. They often do not differ substantially from the original intent of the common law.
In traditional legal law regarding estates, trespassers, licensees, and invitees are all granted varying degrees of protection from harm or injury that may be incurred while on another person's land. A certain number of states have instead decided to adopt a more modern statue that eliminates the three different categories of third person parties that may be on their land.
These states do not focus on the distinctions between a trespasser, a licensee, or an invitee, but rather focus on the general duty of a landowner to care for and ensure the reasonable safety of estates for all visitors, regardless of a visitor's traditional categorization. Rather than focusing on the status in legal law of a trespasser, invitee, or licensee, these states focus particularly on the ability of a landowner to foresee injury, maintain property, and ensure safety on estates. Thus, a landowner would not be held liable for injury or harm to a trespasser under older laws regarding estates, but would be held liable under the newer universal laws.
Another notable difference from these statutes is the creation of recreational use statutes is another modern change to the legal law regarding estates. To encourage landowners to allow others to use their estates for recreational purposes, many states have removed the traditional liabilities that landowners must honor regarding licensees on their land.
A landowner would owe no duty to ensuring the safety of a person using their land for recreational purposes if they had qualified as an owner under these recreational use statutes. Provided they do not charge a person for the use of the land, any harm or injury sustained by a third person party on the owner's land would not be held liable to the owner. These recreational use statutes vary by state, but in general encourage rural land owners to open their land by protecting the owners from injury litigation. Contact real estate lawyers for legal advice and assistance.