Understanding the four categories of premises liability

Accidents occur all the time, but proper safety measures can help to prevent them in certain cases. If you or a loved one became victim to a slip and fall accident due to unsafe conditions or negligent acts, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim.

Premises liability laws govern the proceedings for slip and fall accidents and similar cases. In such instances, the liability category determines the extent of the owner's responsibility.


There are four premises liability classification. The categories are as follows:

  1. Invitee
  2. Licensee by invitation
  3. Bare licensee
  4. Trespasser

An invitee and licensee by invitation are individuals who were directly or indirectly invited onto the property by the owner. An invitee is on the property for business purposes, while a licensee by invitation is there for social reasons. A bare licensee may enter the property on her or his own accord, but has the owner's consent. On the other hand, a trespasser is an individual who does not have permission to be on the property and is actually committing a criminal act according to Maryland law.

Owner responsibility

The owner owes the highest duty of care to invitees on the property. It is the owner's duty to eliminate foreseeable dangers when possible, or at least warn patrons about them. The level of care decreases amongst the other three categories, however, the owner still has some responsibilities. In fact, even in the case of trespassers, the owner's duty of care may be higher if the trespasser is a minor.

Determining status

Determining the category status may be tricky in some instances because the individuals may fit in more than one category. For instance, a vendor would initially be an invitee, but attending an after-hours social event would make him or her a licensee by invitation. It is important to note the status of the individual at the time of the incident.

As you can see, premises liability can be in-depth. However, by taking the time to understand the key concepts, you can gain a good grasp of the law in relation to your case.


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