Can trespassers pursue a premises liability lawsuit?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2018 | Personal Injury Law

We enter the property of others with little thought about what could happen while on that property. Premises liability is the legal theory where an individual who is injured by a dangerous property condition can recover compensation for his or her damages if certain legal elements are shown. For example, those who are invited onto the property of another must put forth evidence that they were in fact invited onto the property and that the property owner failed to identify and quickly remedy an existing hazard. Depending on the circumstances, it may also be necessary for an invitee to show that the property owner failed to warn of the hazardous condition.

But what about someone who trespasses onto the property of another? Can he or she recover damages if injured while on the property of another? Although property owners generally owe no duty of care to trespassers, there is an exception. When a property owner has reason to believe that trespassers will likely enter onto his or her premises, then he or she may owe those trespassers a duty of care that extends to providing reasonable warning.

This exception does not apply to all dangerous conditions, though. Instead, it usually only applies to man-made conditions that are likely to cause serious injury or death. For example, a property owner cannot set up a booby trap in hopes of injuring a trespasser. If he or she does and a trespasser is injured as a result, then the property owner may be held liable and ordered to pay compensation.

Those who are hurt while on the property of another, whether in a slip-and-fall accident involving a wet grocery store floor or trip-and-fall incident in an ill-lighted parking lot, may be able to take legal action to recoup any losses they have suffered. However, these premises liability lawsuits can be challenging, meaning that victims need to be prepared with strong evidence and arguments to support their positions. Competent legal professionals may be able to help with accomplishing these tasks.


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