Trespassers are committing a crime by entering your property without permission – therefore, you must take action against them. But what happens if the trespasser gets injured on your property?
You have a responsibility to make sure your property is safe for everyone, including yourself and your visitors. Someone getting injured at your business or home can sue you for compensation, but if a trespasser gets injured does this apply to them too? After all, they got injured while breaking the law. So, if they wouldn’t have committed the crime, they wouldn’t be physically injured now.
If you are trying to do your best to avoid being sued by someone, this post will tell you everything about liability when a trespasser gets injured on your property.
Are Property Owners Liable For Trespasser Injuries?
Generally, property owners cannot be held liable for trespasser injuries. After all, trespassers are not supposed to be there, so a property owner will not be able to warn this person about potential safety dangers.
If a trespasser enters your property and slips and falls due to something you have spilled on the floor, it is not your problem. Perhaps you knew about the spill. But if you live alone, you might not rush to clean the mess because you do not expect anyone else to slip and fall.
Although this is the case, there are some exceptions to the rule.
What Are The Exceptions?
As mentioned, there are a few cases when you can be sued by a trespasser who gets injured on your property. Here are the exceptions you should know about:
Sometimes, a trespasser will come to your property more than once. When you find out about the trespasser, you will expect them to trespass again in the future if you do not take legal action. Not only that, but since you know about them, you could also take care of any safety hazards that might lead to one getting injured.
In fact, there are many states where warning trespassers about the dangers on your land is a must. There should at least be a sign pointing to potential safety hazards.
Also, the trespasser will have to make sure they file their claim against you on time if they want any compensation. Each state has its own statute of limitations. In Oregon, the statute of limitation for personal injury claims is two years. As such, they must hire Salem personal injury lawyers or attorneys from their area within this time.
Do you own a dog that exhibits dangerous behavior? You are responsible for any injury it might cause if you are fully aware of this behavior. Therefore, if you know about the dog’s aggression and someone trespasses and the dog injures them, you might be held liable – especially if you took no precautionary measures.
Precautionary measures could involve chaining the dog. If a dog is chained but someone who trespasses puts himself/herself in danger by approaching the dog in any way, you will not be responsible for it.
Bear in mind that the breed of the dog is also important when determining its dangerous behavior.
Willful And Wanton Conduct
If someone like a burglar enters your house, you have every right to shoot if you think your life or the life of your family is in danger. But what happens when someone keeps entering a property of yours that is simply used for things like storage? Can you use deadly force?
The answer is no in most cases. If a trespasser keeps going to your property that nobody lives in to steal or just do anything else and you set up traps with automatic weapons, you can be held liable for the injuries. This is not what you should do to protect your land against future thefts.
With that in mind, you should never engage in willful and wanton conduct, especially considering it is not allowed in most states.
Most of the time, a trespasser getting injured on your property cannot sue you for damages. They decided to enter your property without being allowed to do so. At the same time, there are some exceptions to keep in mind.
If you engaged in willful and wanton conduct, left your knowingly dangerous dog free to attack someone, or didn’t warn a regular trespasser about safety hazards, the trespasser can make a claim against you to get compensation.