Can You Sue For Personal Injury If You Were Trespassing?


You experienced a relatively serious injury while at a neighbor's property. Normally, you might figure you could receive a settlement from the property owner's insurance company, but there's just one problem -- you weren't supposed to be there and technically you were trespassing. Is there any way you still can obtain financial compensation because of unsafe conditions on this property? The answer depends on certain factors. 

Premises Liability

Homeowners sometimes are sued when a person is injured on their property because of legal concepts known as duty of care and premises liability. By law, a property owner is responsible for keeping the premises safe for visitors, delivery personnel or other people he or she might expect to be there. If one of those persons is injured because of an unsafe condition, the landowner is liable for the expenses. 

For example, the property owner must make sure bordering sidewalks are safe to walk on and that damaged tree branches are removed if they pose a potential safety hazard to passersby. 

Circumstances in Which You Might Obtain Compensation

Property owners typically aren't held responsible if a trespasser is injured on their land. It's not just that the trespasser didn't belong there, but that the landowner didn't expect the person to be on the property and so isn't liable for any unsafe conditions the individual encountered. There are some exceptions to this, however.

The Property Owner Knows About Trespassers

If the landowner knows people trespass and doesn't take steps to stop it or to alert them to unsafe conditions, he or she may be held legally responsible if someone suffers an injury. For example, if the owner has an aggressive dog that attacks one of these individuals, the injured person might be able to file a lawsuit unless the landowner had posted warning signs about the dog. 

Courts consider two types of knowledge in regard to a landowner realizing trespassers come onto the property. Actual notice would involve the landowner seeing uninvited visitors there or hearing someone else talking about it. Constructive notice includes situations in which a property owner can surmise uninvited visitors have been there, such as seeing human footpaths through a wooded part of a property. 

The Property Has Unreasonable Dangers

A trespasser may have a good case if the property has some unreasonable or illegal hazards, or if the owner is engaging in dangerous activity. Live electrical wires on the ground might constitute an unreasonable and illegal hazard that could override the aspect of illegal trespass.

Some of these instances are very complex and require professional legal action to sort out. There also are variations in laws in different states regarding the duty of care toward trespassers. 

The Owner Used Deadly Force Without Cause

A person may use deadly force -- also known as lethal force -- if there appears to be a threat against any people by the trespasser. However, in some states, they can't legally take action that could result in serious injury or death if there is no such threat, even if someone is stealing something from the property. Other states allow deadly force to protect property. 

A property owner cannot set up a booby-trap that could seriously injure a trespasser. This qualifies as willful and wanton conduct in legal codes. 

Can a Lawyer Help?

Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so schedule an appointment with an attorney to explain your situation. The lawyer knows the relevant state laws and how they apply to your circumstances. You may not be able to obtain compensation for your injuries, but it's advisable to find out whether you have a good case. 


31 March 2015

Car Accident Clues

It can be hard to know what to do to protect yourself legally in the immediate aftermath of a car accident. You’re liable to be disoriented or in shock, you may be injured, and you’re surely worried about your passenger or the other driver. At least, that’s how I felt. The thing is, the things you say and do in the immediate aftermath of an accident may affect a legal case later. Depending on who’s at fault and what the laws are in your state, you may want to sue the other driver for damages, or you may find yourself being sued. My blog is designed to give you tips for a car accident lawsuit, no matter which side you find yourself on.