This space has previously taken up the issue of what the three basic statuses are of people who are present on property owned by someone else. To refresh, these statuses include: licensee, invitee and trespasser. The reason the status of a visitor is important is that it affects the duty owed by the property owner to that individual. This may have quite an effect on a civil suit if a visitor in injured on the property. We recently discussed the duties a property owner may owe to a trespasser, but what about the other two categories?
The first thing one must understand to determine what duties are owed to a visitor who is not trespassing is what distinguishes a licensee from an invitee. This can become complex, as simply the act of being “invited” is not necessarily dispositive of this question. Generally speaking, a licensee is someone who has permission from the owner to be on the property, whether technically invited or not. The important concept in these cases is that the owner consents to that person’s presence.
Invitees, on the other hand, are usually people who have come to the property for the benefit of the property’s owner or for their mutual benefit. This is the category that most people coming to a location for business purposes, such as a store customer, would fall into. The invitation in many of these cases is implied by the business being open to the public. There are also “social invitees,” however, who may be similar to licensees, with the difference being the existence of an affirmative invitation, rather than simple permission.
As can be seen, these distinctions may get very fine in certain situations, and the above is not meant to be legal advice on any specific set of circumstances. In fact, people who have questions about premises liability in Connecticut may want to have their cases evaluated by an experienced attorney.