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4 categories of victims in premises liability cases

In premises liability law -- when it comes to a slip-and-fall accident -- there are four categories of accident victims. Accident victims may be categorized as invitees, social guests, licensees or trespassers. Here's what these terms mean:

  • Invitees: An invitee gets invited to a property in order to make a purchase or be a customer of a business. When a business owner has a customer on his or her property, the "invitee" has the legal right to expect safe premises. In fact, the property owner has an obligation and duty to maintain the premises in such a way that the property is free of tripping hazards and other potential dangers.
  • Licensees: A licensee goes onto a property with the owner's consent, but only for the licensee's own purposes. Perhaps the licensee enters the property in order to set up a portable or permanent shop. Or, the licensee may enter the property merely as someone who wishes to enjoy him- or herself there.
  • Social guests: Social guests enter the property with the permission of the owner, perhaps to attend a party or another kind of social gathering.
  • Trespassers: Trespassers go onto a property without the permission of the owner or manager. In cases that involve trespassers no implied promise exists that the property owner must keep the premises safe for would-be trespassers. Nevertheless, in some rare cases, property owners might be liable for a trespasser's injuries.


The legal strategies that slip-and-fall victims employ to pursue their premises liability claims will largely depend on what category of visitor they are and on the facts and circumstances surrounding their accident and injuries. If you have questions on how to proceed with your slip-and-fall accident case, a New Jersey premises liability attorney can help.

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