What duty does a landowner owe to a trespasser?
Premises liability in New York deals with unsafe property conditions due to the owner’s lack of maintenance or care, which results in injury to someone who enters the property. However, not everyone is given authorization to enter a property, such as trespassers. While a property owner may not have a duty to protect such individuals, they are obligated to not expose them to injury.
If a property owner has reason to believe trespassers will enter the property, he or she must post a warning of danger. The property owner is particularly liable if the dangerous condition might cause significant injury to the trespasser. In addition, the owner may be liable if the dangerous condition could be easily discovered by the trespasser.
In terms of underage trespassers, the owner does have an obligation to provide safety. For instance, if a swimming pool is on the property, the owner might realize that children would gravitate to it and possibly injure themselves not realizing its inherent danger. This is commonly called an attractive nuisance. The property owner is legally bound to correct the hazard.
In a premises liability case, a trespasser might be asked to prove that the owner had reason to believe he or she might gain access to the property. Further, the danger on the property required warning and none was given or the danger could within reason be discovered by the trespasser. Under such conditions, the property owner has a duty of care to warn the trespasser.
An attorney may assist an individual in proving their injury on the landowner’s property was due to the owner’s negligence by reviewing the circumstances surrounding the case. The attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court to help the individual recover compensatory damages due to medical expenses and lost wages.
Source: FindLaw, “Homeowner Liability for Trespasser Injuries,” 2014
Source: Findlaw, “Trespassers on Property“, October 30, 2014