Are Homeowners Responsible for Trespasser Injuries?
When someone accesses your property uninvited and are injured, can you be held liable for their injuries? Unfortunately, in some cases, yes, you can be held liable for trespasser injuries. The law is very complicated and this is an area that can be very confusing to the average person.
Trespasser Injury Liability General Rule
One thing that is important to note is that, in most cases, a property owner is not liable for injuries caused to a trespasser. As with any aspect of the law, however, there are exceptions to this rule. The general rule is that most property owners cannot anticipate that someone will enter their property without permission which means they cannot be expected to warn the trespasser that a danger exists.
If your property lies between a residential development and the local Little League Park, you will more than likely have trespassers on your property regularly unless your yard is fenced. If you know that people will trespass on your property and do not stop them from doing so, the general rule no longer applies if one of those trespassers is injured.
For example, if you have a dog that likes to dig holes, you may need to provide warnings to anyone trespassing on your property that those holes exist. If one of the trespassers trips and falls in the hole, they could file a premises liability claim against you for failing to warn them it was there.
Willful and Wanton Conduct
Simply posting warnings does not mean you are not liable for a trespasser injury. If you enjoy target shooting and have posted signs to that effect, you cannot simply begin shooting without making sure no trespassers are in the area as this could be considered willful and wanton conduct. You also may not set a trap for trespassers that is designed to intentionally harm them. Digging a trench and covering it with brush that allows a trespasser to fall and become injured would be considered willful and wanton conduct. This does not necessarily mean you cannot use deadly force against trespassers, depending on where you live. In most cases, if an armed burglar breaks into your home, you are permitted to use deadly force to protect your home and family if the laws in your city or state permit such force.
If a trespasser has been injured on your property, contact Lundy Law to learn what rights you may have. We can review your case at an initial, no-obligation consultation to determine if you may be liable for trespasser injuries. You can arrange for your consultation by calling 1-800-Lundy Law or by completing the easy form online.