If a Habitual Trespasser / Someone Gets Hurt on Your Property, You are Liable and other Unfair Real Estate Laws
One thing that many home and property owners don't realize is that they have a civil duty to provide a "safe environment" for trespassers. No matter how many no trespassing signs, gates, fences, or means you install to let intruders know they are not welcome, it is your duty as the owner of the property to ensure they have a safe place to trespass.
Tort Law states that a trespasser is one who enters on the land of another without the right to do so. A landowner owes no duty to a trespasser except to refrain from injuring him by “willful and wanton” misconduct. You cannot intentionally harm the trespasser. However, there are exceptions to the law which makes the property owner responsible for any damages sustained by the unwelcome if they are injured or have damages due to their own behavior.
When the property owner knows that a trespasser habitually intrudes on a particular part of the land, or when a trespasser’s presence on the land has actually been discovered by the property owner, most courts will hold the owner to a duty of reasonable care in conducting activities on the premises.
This means that because you are aware that a habitual trespasser continues to violate your property, it is your civic duty to make sure he or she has a safe environment in which to do it. If this person gets injured on your property, even in the process of damaging your property, you will most likely be found liable for his injuries.
Property owners must must "warn" everyone, including trespassers, of traps set on their land. The warnings must be reasonable, so that all may avoid the threat of injury.
Setting traps and devices to protect your property may lead to serious legal liability and is an illegal act. If a person sets up such a trap to protect his property, he will be liable for any injury or death even to an unwanted intruder such as a burglar. This includes setting traps inside your home to harm burglars.
Children and Attractive Nuisances
No matter what precautions you take to secure your yard, pool, yard, trampoline, or any other item in your yard, if a child gets harmed, you are liable. Things like pools and swing sets are considered to be "Attractive Nuisances" and they come with heavily liability should children in your neighborhood get injured on the item, or attempting to get to the item.
The law considers the rights of children under the age of ten differently than an adult's. The law doesn't expect children to fully comprehend the dangers they may face If a property owner has reason to believe that children might come onto their property, the law places a special responsibility on them to prevent harm If an owner fails to meet this responsibility, they will most likely be held liable for the child's injuries. Some common nuisances are:
- Swimming pools and fountains
- Your child's yard toys
- Machinery (lawnmowers, gasoline pumps, etc)
- Wells and tunnels
- Dangerous animals
- Interesting yard tools
- Paths and stairs
If you are civilly charged with a child's accident on your property, you may be shown some mercy by the courts if you can prove your property was secure and the items protected. Overall you and your insurance company will be financially responsible for any damages.
Owning property comes with great responsibility and risk. If you have questions about providing trespassers a safe place to trespass, setting booby traps, or attractive nuisances, talk to your insurance agent who specializes in preventing civil procedures.