We all like to have a sense of privacy. A sense of security. A place we can call our own without worrying about other people destroying our property or taking our things. We put up fences to surround what we own and believe what we are doing protects us from liability if someone enters our property without our permission. What if, while illegally entering our property, someone does get injured and then goes on to file a personal injury claim against us? Do we have any recourse? If this is happening to you, contact a personal injury attorneys, like a Canoga Park personal injury lawyer, today.
The general answer is that the property owners are not responsible for injuries incurred by trespasser’s on their property. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. It is up to the trespasser to prove to the court why they are due any recovery when they were on your property without your permission.
The law understands that as a property owner, it is not your responsibility to be prepared for trespassers and cannot be expected to advise trespassers about possible safety hazards.
If people cut through your property on a regular basis, you can probably continue they will do so. In this case, the general rule does not apply. The property owner who is aware of possible dangerous conditions on their property know these conditions could be hazardous to people crossing on to their land.
There are several states that require property owners to post signs warning trespassers of possible dangerous conditions. Perhaps there is an electrified fence or guns are being used on the property.
Can Property Owners Willfully Target Trespassers
Just because you post signs concerning the dangers on your property does not mean you can willfully target trespassers by participating in conduct that may cause injuries to those passing through your property illegally.
A few examples of willful and wanton conduct include:
- Excessively practice skeet shooting or target practice knowing people are trespassing through your property on a regular basis
- Set a trap for a potential trespasser that when the land or home is entered and the trap is engaged, the trespasser is hurt or possibly shot with a gun that has been set there for the purpose of catching the trespasser
- The property owner purposely digs a deep hole and then disguises it with branches and leaves knowing that a trespasser can fall in the hole when they cross the property
In these cases, the property owner will likely be liable for any injuries the trespasser incurs. Most of the time it is illegal to use deadly force (as in the example of the rigged gun) to protect your property.
When Property Owners Can Legally Use Deadly Force
Property owners may legally use deadly force to protect themselves or other people if they feel their life is being threatened. A good example of the justification for deadly force is if someone breaks into your home while you are there and you are in fear of your life.
If someone has been injured while trespassing on your property and is bringing a lawsuit against you for compensation because of their injuries, call an attorney to discuss your case to determine whether or not they have reason to blame you for their injuries.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Barry P. Goldberg, PLC for their insight into liability in personal injury cases.