Homeowners must be sure to keep the proper amount of insurance to avoid out-of-pocket expenses if an unexpected event arises. Insurance policies cover damage to your home but also covers injuries when someone is hurt on your property. While it may be difficult to believe, you may be held liable when an uninvited guest is injured on or near your home. Below is an overview of personal injury law and how it pertains to homeowner liability for trespasser injuries. If you are facing a lawsuit in a similar situation, it may be a good idea to speak with a lawyer for advice.
What Is A Trespasser?
A trespasser is a person that you have not given permission to be on your property. In many cases, landowners have frequent trespassers such as hunters who routinely enter the property without the knowledge of the landowner. While the law does not require you to protect these people, you can not take steps to injure them.
When Is A Landowner Liable For Trespasser Injuries?
Homeowner liability for trespasser injuries largely depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. If you know there are frequent trespassers entering your property, you may be held liable for unsafe conditions if:
- You Created A Dangerous Condition
- You Do Not Take Steps To Remedy A Dangerous Situation
- You Did Not Think Trespassers Would Discover The Unsafe Conditions Or Be Injured By It
- You Failed To Post A Warning Of The Risk For Trespassers To See
If The Trespasser Is A Child
Homeowner liability changes a bit if the trespasser is a child or minor under the law. In many areas, children wander onto property and are unable to determine if an unsafe condition exists. There are things that can lure children onto property, such as swimming pools or trampolines. These are known as attractive nuisances and you must take steps to provide safety measures to keep children from injuring themselves. Property owners could be held liable if a child is hurt or killed if:
- Children Were Likely Or Known To Trespass On Your Property
- A Dangerous Condition Existed
- The Child May Not Be Old Enough To Understand The Potential Risk
When it comes to children, homeowners must take steps above posting danger signs around the home. If you have a swimming pool, you are required to take appropriate steps to prohibit access from wandering children. This means placing a fence around your pool may not be enough, but placing a fence with gait locks that children cannot reach may reduce your liability.
In most states, homeowners must avoid activities that place trespassers in danger on their property. This means target practice or skeet shooting may mean you are liable if someone is accidentally shot on your property, even if they are not invited. Homeowners cannot use deadly force simply to protect property in most states. However, stand your ground laws may protect homeowners who use deadly force to protect themselves and their loved ones if a trespasser is armed and they are in fear for their life. Placing hazards intended to trap or injure someone who is attempting to break into your home will require you to be liable for their injuries or wrongful death in most situations. This area of the law is complex and can be difficult to interpret, so it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney for advice.
When it comes to homeowner liability and trespassers, it can be difficult to determine who is at fault when an injury occurs. While it seems impossible that you could be held liable for injuries sustained by an uninvited guest, it can be the case if certain circumstances exist in the case. If you are a homeowner facing liability for trespasser injuries, it is a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney to discuss all of your options available under the law in your state.