Who You are Matters: Classifications, Duty, and Premises Liability.

Real Estate Law

Georgia law imposes certain duties on all property owners to keep their property in a reasonably safe condition so that those entering the premises (either private residential or business property) will not get hurt. Exactly what that duty entails, however, depends, not on the property owner, but on the classification of the person entering the property.

In today’s post, we’ll explain how premises liability divides people into classifications and assigns property owners different duties to keep their premises safe depending on the class of person entering the property.

But first, let’s revisit what premises liability is all about.

What is Premises Liability?

The legal theory of “premises liability” holds property owners responsible for injuries that occur on their property (or premises). The law requires all property owners to maintain their property in a reasonably safe condition so that people entering on the property will not get hurt.

Premises liability law allows an injured person to hold the property owner or occupier responsible for his (or her) injuries. This can be for injuries caused by, for example, a failure to repair or correct a problem, or a failure to warn of a dangerous condition. For example, premises liability would come into play if a business failed to warn of a dangerous condition (e.g., slippery floor) or if a dog owner failed to leash, confine, or control his dog, and it bites someone.

What are the Types of Classifications?

As mentioned above, premises liability law classifies people who enter onto property. It then assigns the property owner a different level of duty towards each. These classifications are:

  • Invitee
  • Licensee
  • Trespasser

Depending on the person’s classification, the property owner has a specific duty of care to make the property safe for that person.

Different People and Different Levels of Duty of Care

Now let’s take a look at the duty of care owed to each classification of persons.


The highest duty of care is owed to an invitee.

An invitee is someone who is “invited” onto the property. This can be private guests, or it can be a business’ customers. A property owner owes an invitee a duty of ordinary care. This means that the property owner must inspect the property and use ordinary care to keep it well-maintained and safe for his guests or customers.


A licensee is someone who has not been invited onto the property, but who an owner should nevertheless reasonably expect to be on the property, and who is there for his or her own purposes. (For example, a salesman.) The duty owed to a licensee is to avoid “recklessly or wantonly” injuring him.


As you would expect, a trespasser is neither invited onto the property, nor reasonably expected to be on the property.  And the property owner owes the least duty to a trespasser. The property owner’s duty to a trespasser is to not intentionally, wantonly, or willfully cause them harm.

Premises liability is an important part of personal injury law for both property owners and for those who may be injured while on another’s property.

Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia. 

The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in several counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others.  To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.

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