Can Property Owners Be Sued for the Slip and Fall Accident of a Trespasser?
If you’re a property owner and someone slips and falls on your property when they are not authorized to be there, you are generally not responsible for the injury. However, there are some exceptions you should be aware of.
If you have to go to court for a slip and fall case, the judge will likely ask the plaintiff to provide sufficient evidence proving that you are liable since the trespasser is usually at fault in these situations.
This general rule is not solely to penalize trespassers. The notion that trespassers are usually at fault for their injuries indicates that property owners usually don’t expect or anticipate trespassers. This means that property owners can’t always take the necessary measures to protect people who come to their property unannounced.
Here are a few exceptions you should be aware of if trespassers arrive on your property.
When individuals trespass on some property regularly, the property owner may start to anticipate ongoing trespassing. In these situations, you should implement safety measures if you anticipate that hazardous conditions on your property could jeopardize someone’s safety, even if they’re trespassing.
In some states, you are required to tell the trespassers of potentially dangerous conditions on your property. For instance, if you normally go hunting for animals on your property or find out that people are cutting through your property to get to a state park or camping site, post signs warning trespassers that they could encounter danger while walking on your property.
Willful and Wanton Conduct
Even if you post signs letting trespassers know that your property could be dangerous, you should still refrain from willfully engaging in harmful or reckless activities on your property. For instance, suppose you own a home that is solely used as a storage space for your furniture and other belongings. A number of thefts occur in your “storage” home because thieves can tell no one lives there.
To prevent more theft, let’s say you placed a spring gun in the home so that thieves trip on a wire attached to the gun trigger and are injured. In this case, you as the homeowner would be liable for the trespasser’s injuries. This is because you generally can’t use deadly force to protect your home.
However, as a property owner, you can use deadly force to protect yourself or other individuals in your home or on your property. For instance, if a burglar breaks into your home while you and your family are sleeping, you can shoot the burglar if you feel that your safety or your family’s safety is at stake.
If you have a dog that has the potential to be dangerous, you may have to pay a trespasser for damages if your dog bites the trespasser. The chances of you paying a settlement are higher if you know that your dog is violent and the dog attacks the trespasser, even if you took precautions to restrain the dog with a fence or chain.
The breed of the dog will also be a factor in your case. For instance, if you have a pit bull who has been trained to threaten or scare trespassers, the judge will take this into account before issuing a decision.
If you were hurt while entering someone else’s property, If the property owner knew about the hazard that caused the slip and fall accident it usually means you have a claim. Be sure to speak with a lawyer as soon as you are injured. A qualified attorney can review the specifics of your case and get you the settlement you deserve.
By Cheryl Roy
Author’s Bio: Passionate writer and contributor to several professional websites. I like to debate complex topics and I’m always up for new challenges. Doing research and discovering new information are two aspects marked as a priority when I’m writing my articles and ideas.