What Is the Difference Between an Invitee and Licensee?

Invitees and licensees are both welcome guests of a property owner. While they do share similarities separating them from trespassers, there are distinct differences.

The main difference between an invitee and licensee is that an invitee has been invited for business purposes while a licensee is someone there for social purposes or a reason unrelated to business.

Examples of invitees include:

  • Shoppers at a grocery store
  • Contractors performing work on a house
  • A delivery person

Examples of licensees include:

  • Someone who came into a grocery store to use the restroom
  • A guest visiting her friend’s house
  • A guest at a party

While these distinctions may not appear wholly significant, they play an important role in Georgia’s premises liability laws.

How Do Invitees and Licensees Relate to Premises Liability?

Premises liability laws dictate that owners have a duty of care to maintain safe conditions on their properties. While duty of care does not apply to trespassers, it does apply to a property’s welcome individuals.

It is important to note that it applies in different ways to invitees and licensees. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-1 states:

“Where an owner or occupier of land, by express or implied invitation, induces or leads others to come upon his premises for any lawful purpose, he is liable in damages to such persons for injuries caused by his failure to exercise ordinary care in keeping the premises and approaches safe.”

This means that the property owner has two responsibilities:

  • He must remedy any hazards or warn invitees of their existence; and
  • He must routinely survey the property for any hazards

This duty of care applies only to people who are invitees. While this does not mean there is no applicable duty of care to licensees, the standard is lower.

What Duty of Care Do Property Owners Owe to Licensees?

Georgia law dictates that property owners are only liable in accidents if they “wantonly” or “willfully” injure a licensee.   

This means the property owner must:

  • Assume the presence of licensees;
  • Remedy hazards that make the property unsafe; and
  • Warn licensees of hazards that are not clearly visible

The main difference between the duty of care for invitees and licensees is the added responsibility of scanning the property for hazards that might injure invitees.

How Can a Licensee Collect Damages After an Accident?

Licensees must prove that the property owner had knowledge of the risks and hazards present on the premises. Proving knowledge can be difficult, but S. Burke Law has represented many personal injury victims in premises liability cases. We use that experience to prove the property owner’s knowledge of hazards in one of the following ways:

Actual knowledge: The property owner discovered the risks previously or was informed of them (e.g., a property manager received multiple complaints about a broken handrail).

Constructive knowledge which comes in two forms:

  • The property owner knew the licensee might encounter the hazard.
  • Evidence that the hazard was present for an extended period of time (e.g., the property owner did not receive complaints on the broken handrail; however, it was broken for a long enough time that the property manager should have known about it). Georgia laws state that property owners have legal knowledge of the hazard when this is the case.

We Can Help With Your Premises Liability Case

Few people think of the context of their trip when visiting public or private places. And even fewer think about suffering an injury as we go about our day. But, unfortunately, injuries do happen. And your reasons for being in the place where you suffered your injury factor heavily into your ability to claim and collect damages.

Our team at S. Burke Law understands these nuances, and compassionately fights on your behalf. Call us now for a consultation at 404-842-7838. You can walk us through the circumstances of your accident, and we can lay out your potential options. Our consultations are free of charge.