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Am I An Invitee Or A Licensee Under Florida Premises Liability Law?


When a person is injured on property or in a business that belongs to another person, and they believe that negligence played a role in their injury, they file suit under a theory known as premises liability. Florida’s negligence law holds that if a business or a landowner has a hazard on their land or in their establishment, and someone is injured by coming in contact with that hazard, the owner may be on the proverbial hook if they failed to take all possible precautions. However, the status of the injured plaintiff also makes a difference in this kind of personal injury case, and it can be difficult to figure out what status you actually have before filing suit.

Three Types of Visitors

Premises liability is an ancient concept that dates back to English common law, and it holds that if someone is injured on another person’s property, and the injury was due to the negligence of the owner, the injured person may be able to receive monetary compensation for the harm they have suffered. In general, businesses and landowners have a duty to exercise care towards those who come there, and a breach of that duty can be actionable. However, what many do not know is that a different duty of care is owed to people with different legal classifications.

The seminal case in Florida premises liability is Post v. Lunney (1972), and it specifies that there are three types of potential visitors under state law. The first is an invitee, which is a person who has been invited onto property for either some business of the owner’s, or as a member of the public. Patrons of a store or a public park are invitees. The second is referred to as a licensee, which is a person who comes onto property or into a business for a reason of their own. The common example of a licensee is a door-to-door salesman – they may be admitted onto your property, but they remain at sufferance, unlike an invitee. The third category is that of a trespasser, which is fairly self-explanatory.

So What Am I?

Your classification will depend on your reason for visiting the premises in the first place, and in turn, that will determine what level of care was owed to you by the business or landowner. In Post, a woman who had paid to tour grand homes in Palm Beach Garden fractured her hip tripping on a piece of plastic set in place to protect a valuable rug at the home of Mrs. Post. The homeowner argued that she was a licensee, and thus only entitled to be warned about potential dangers in the home. The injured woman argued she was an invitee, and thus entitled to a greater degree of care, including the homeowner either fixing or warning of dangers.

Ultimately the court sided with Ms. Lunney, accepting the argument that she was an invitee because a mutual benefit existed between her and Mrs. Post, and she was there on business of the owner’s – after all, Mrs. Post had been the prime mover in adding her home to the Palm Beach Garden tour. Look for the same mutual benefit analysis in your case; if you are on someone’s premises only at sufferance, or if there is only benefit to one party in the transaction, it is a strong hint that you are a licensee.

Contact A Tampa Premises Liability Attorney

If you have been injured on someone else’s property, determining your status can make all the difference in terms of seeking compensation. The Tampa premises liability attorneys from the Rinaldo Law Group have been handling these types of cases for years, and we are happy to try and assist you with any questions or concerns you might have. Call our offices today for a free consultation.

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