Since their development by the English court in Indermaur v. Dames, the categories of trespasser, licensee and invitee have played a significant role in the law of torts. Though they were founded upon nineteenth century notions of liability, and reflect an age which had not yet discarded the feudal principles of landowner's sovereignty, these distinctions have persisted, plaguing courts and litigants alike. While other archaic rules have fallen before the demands of our industrial complex and rising social consciousness, these classifications have endured. Since few valid reasons can be given for their longevity, the distinctions are slowly losing standing under a seige of exception and modification. To request the modern jurist to conform to a rule which limits recovery to "wilful and wanton injury," to ask him to disregard the negligence principles so painstakingly developed through a century of litigation, seems too great a demand. Thus, with increasing frequency the categories have been eroded by exceptions or ignored, to be replaced by current negligence concepts. A recent Washington case, Ward v. Thompson, presents a summary indication of this trend.
Washington Case Law,
Torts—Occupier's Liability—The Licensee and Invitee in Washington,
37 Wash. L. Rev.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/wlr/vol37/iss2/21