Washington Law Review




The rules of law governing the liability of an occupier of land to persons entering thereon were developed in England in the 19th century. Most commentators have concluded that they were based on a quid pro quo rationale, the degree of care owing to an entrant by an occupier increasing as a function of the degree of benefit, real or potential, accruing to the occupier by reason of the entrance. In order to facilitate application of the rules, the categories of trespasser, licensee, and invitee were used, occupiers owing a predetermined degree of care to persons in each category. Onice an entrant was properly categorized, determining whether there was liability became a matter of "mechanical jurisprudence." Although modified in varying degrees, these rules remain the touchstone for determining land occupier liability in Washington as well as other American jurisdictions. Recent developments in the law of land occupier liability render appropriate a survey of the present rules in Washington.

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