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One of the most difficult parts, of personal liability law, for the layman to understand is Premises Liability. This isn’t very surprising when you consider the fact that many times Florida’s lawyers and even judges disagree on how the laws should be interpreted.

Most people believe that if someone is injured or killed on someone else’s property or at a business, the person or company in control of that property is automatically responsible for all damages.

This isn’t necessarily the case. The degree of responsibility that the property owner incurs can vary a great deal depending on a number of factors, but primarily it comes down to the legal status of the injured party.

To help clear a little of the confusion, here is a short guide to clarify the subject.


Invitees fall under two categories in the legal sense; public and business.

The easiest way to describe the difference in the two is to think of a mall. The parking and common areas are there for public use and people entering them, for their intended purpose, are considered Public Invitees.

Once you enter a store in the mall, with the intent of making a purchase, you become a Business Invitee

The property owner’s responsibility is the same. It is just the legal term that changes.

In either case the property owner should maintain a safe environment, correct any dangerous conditions, and warn the people they have invited of any and all dangers that may exist or occur while they are there, including foreseeable third party crimes.


Licensees also are broken down into two separate categories. Unlike Invitees though, there is a great deal of difference in the legal status of each.

Licensee By Invitation

A Licensee By Invitation, is simply a social guest. Your buddy coming over to watch a game or friends you’re having for dinner are Licensees By Invitation and they are entitled to all of the protections that an Invitee is.

The major difference between an Invitee and a Licensee By Invitation, is that the first applies to public areas and businesses while the latter applies to personal property and guests.

Uninvited Licensee

An Uninvited Licensee is someone who crosses a property for no apparent or expressed purpose. This last point is what differentiates them from a Trespasser. Think of a neighborhood kid who just runs across your yard.

As far as property owners’ legal responsibility, this is actually a moot point as an Uninvited Licensee is afforded no more protection than a Trespasser.


A Trespasser is someone who enters onto a property without any right, license, or invitation for a purpose, even if that purpose is nothing more than to satisfy their own curiosity.

Under Florida law, a Trespasser or Uninvited Licensee has very little protection. The property owner is not responsible for third party crimes, foreseeable or not, and only must refrain from wanton or willful injury, as in setting hidden traps.

As you can see, there are a lot of gray areas where a person’s status could be considered to fall into more than one category and that the difference, from a liability standpoint, can be majorly important.

As with all personal injury cases, a property owners insurance company is going to try and subvert the facts to shed the best light on their client and save every penny that they can for the company.

If you have suffered an injury or been the victim of a crime on someone else’s property, contact a qualified personal injury attorney, as soon as possible, to make sure your rights are protected and that you receive every compensation that you are entitled to under the law.