Premises Liability: The Role of Trespassers

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  • Premises Liability: The Role of Trespassers

Premises liability cases involve injuries that result from accidents on someone else’s property. Plaintiffs may hold property owners, managers, landlords, and others accountable for their injuries.

But victims may not always be entitled to the same level of protection. Your ability to receive compensation depends on your status as an invitee, licensee, or trespasser.

Understanding the duty of care property owners and managers have towards visitors helps you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries.

Premises Liability in Personal Injury

The injuries involved in premises liability cases are typically caused by conditions that are unsafe. Like other personal injury cases, negligence plays a major role in determining liability.

Plaintiffs must show the courts that the property’s owner was negligent in maintaining the property. This means the owner did not demonstrate reasonable care in keeping the property safe.

Being injured on another person’s property doesn’t mean they were negligent. Safety risks can exist for reasons other than negligence.

You need to demonstrate that the owner either knew or should have reasonably known about any existing safety hazards while failing to address those risks.

Trespassers, Premises Liability, and the Duty of Care

Property owners have a duty to keep visitors safe from harm. The extent of their duty of care depends on the status of property visitors. The following are three classifications of visitors:

  • Invitees
  • Licensees
  • Trespassers

Invitees and licensees have implied or expressed permission to be on the property. This includes visitors who are on site for business or social purposes. Property owners have a duty to keep these visitors safe from harm.

Trespassers include individuals who don’t have a legal right or authorization to be present on the property.

The duty of care owed to trespassers is less than that owed to invitees and licensees. Property owners must only protect trespassers from wanton or willful harm.

A trespasser is someone who enter someone else’s property illegally. Property owners don’t owe a duty of care to trespassers except to avoid committing willful or wanton acts that can cause them harm.

Willful misconduct occurs when the perpetrator intentionally causes harm to another party. Wanton misconduct includes acts in which there is a reckless disregard for the safety of others.

A duty of care exists in cases where property owners are aware that trespassers enter their property, and there’s a known safety risk that can harm any trespassers.

But property owners aren’t required to remove safety risks. They must only avoid willful or wanton acts that cause harm to others.

Property owners do need to exercise reasonable care in avoiding foreseeable safety risks to children. Swimming pools, for example, must be properly maintained to avoid accidents to trespassers and visitors.

Receiving Compensation in Premises Liability Cases

There are factors you need to prove in order to win a legal case involving premises liability. Plaintiffs must show the defendant either owned, managed, or occupied the property at the time of the accident.

This makes it easy to prove whether or not the property owner had a duty to keep the property safe and in reasonably good condition.

You must prove you were injured and that the defendant’s negligence directly resulted in your injuries. Expert testimony, medical records, and other evidence can support claims of injury.

You can also show the courts the future impact your injuries may have on your personal and financial wellbeing.

It’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer who can help you prepare a strong argument for your case.

Understanding premises liability, the role of trespassers and other visitors, and the duty of care owed helps you determine the best legal strategy for getting compensated so you recover from your injuries and restore your long-term wellbeing.