Injured While Trespassing? Why You May Still Be Entitled to Compensation

4 January 2017
 Categories: , Blog

Many property owners believe that they shouldn't compensate trespassers who get injured on their properties. In practice, however, it's possible for property owners to be held liable when their negligence injures trespassers. Here are three situations in which this may happen.

The Injury Was Intentional

If you can prove that the homeowner intentionally hurt your kid, you can hold them liable for your kid's injuries. This is true even if the homeowner claims that they were defending their property. Depending on the jurisdiction, a homeowner is expected to call the authorities or defend their property with reasonable force if they are under attack. The reasonable force must take into account the age or vulnerability of the attacker.

For example, a homeowner who catches a kid breaking their windows cannot break the kid's arms with a baseball bat and later claim that they were defending themselves from the kid. Another example is a homeowner who pushes a preteen to the ground when they catch the kid trespassing on their property. If the preteen is injured, then the homeowner cannot use the kid's status as a trespasser to evade liability.

The Property Owner Knew About the Trespassers

Generally, people cannot be held responsible for injuries they could not foresee. This is why property owners usually escape liability for injured trespassers; it's difficult for property owners to foresee the actions of the trespassers. However, if a homeowner knows that trespassers frequent their property, then they may be liable for trespassers injured on the property.

Consider an example of a property that sits near a bus stop. If people regularly pass through the property to the bus stop, and the property owner knows about this, then the owner is expected to prevent dangerous conditions or warn the trespassers about the dangers. Failure to do this makes the trespasser liable for the injuries. For example, if your kid fell on a disused hole on the property, you may hold the property owner responsible since they should have known that such holes could hurt people passing through the property. 

There Was an Attractive Nuisance on the Property

Lastly, you may also claim damages from the property owner if your kid was injured by an attractive nuisance on the property. An attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition or thing that is likely to attract children. Examples include swimming pools, automobiles, open holes, and old appliances. A property owner is expected to take special precautions, such as fencing swimming pools, to ensure attractive nuisances don't hurt children. Without such precautions, property owners are liable for injured kids, even if the kids were trespassing.

Therefore, don't just assume that you have a weak case just because you were injured while trespassing on another person's property. Consult a personal-injury lawyer, such as one from Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys PA, to evaluate your case and help you decide whether it's worth pursuing.