Plaintiff Categorization In Premise Liability Cases

Premises liability laws categorize injury victims into three groups. The category determines the duty of care, and hence liability, of the defendant towards the accident victim. Below is an overview of these three categories.


An invitee is anyone who is on the property at the invitation of the property owner. There is no difference between express and implied invitation. An express invitation is one where the property owner specifically asks the visitor to their property. An implied invitation is one where the property owner and visitor have a tacit understanding that the property owner needs the visitor on the property.

Repair personnel and buyers are classic examples of invitees. An invitee's actions typically benefit the property owner or both the property owner and the invitee.

Property owners owe the highest duty of care to invitees. Property owners must go out of their way to prevent dangers, eliminate dangers, and warn invitees about possible dangers.


A licensee is anyone that the property owner has allowed on the property. Again, this permission can be implied or expressed. The main difference between an invitee and a licensee is that the licensee's actions may or may not benefit the property owner. A salesperson looking for clients and a friend paying a social call to the property owner are classic examples of licensees.

Property owners owe the second highest duty of care to licensees. Property owners do not have to go out of their way to protect licensees. However, property owners must warn licensees about the dangers on their properties. Property owners must avoid causing wanton or reckless injuries to invitees.


The last category is that of trespassers, who visit properties without the invitation or permission of property owners. A trespasser's actions only benefit the trespasser and not the property owner. A commuter who takes a shortcut through another persona's property, a neighbor who wanders into another property unknowingly, and a burglar who enters a property to still are all trespassers.

A property owner owes the lowest duty of care to trespassers. Property owners don't have to make their properties safe for the benefit of trespassers. A property owner is safe as long as they don't cause intentional injury to trespassers or create dangerous situations targeting trespasser.

You may need to fight to place yourself in the right category to prove your liability claim. Otherwise, the court might toss out your case if they believe the defendant didn't owe you any duty of care. A personal injury lawyer can help you with all these issues.

For more information contact a law firm like Kilgore Smith LLC.