Most people would understandably be distressed to find that someone has been hurt on their property. However, things may be different when that person was trespassing. Read on to find out more.
By Invitation Only
When a visitor to your home is hurt, you may be responsible for their injuries in many cases. Once you issue an invitation to "come in", you are also taking on the burden of ensuring that visitors are not harmed while they are visiting. That is because you owe visitors a duty of care, meaning you have done your best to identify hazards and either rectified them or warned visitors about them. For instance, if you have some loose paving stones on your walkway, you might put up a sign that warns visitors to watch their steps. That move is enough to protect yourself from lawsuits when a visitor gets hurt. However, a warning only buys you some time because you must address the hazard in a permanent manner.
On a related note, some visitors are not necessarily invited to come onto your property but there is an assumption of an invite. That can apply to those who commonly access your yard and home such as mail carriers, pool cleaners, lawn maintenance people, and more. Once you hire them or make it known that they are welcome, they are considered invitees.
Trespassers are Not Welcome
Some visitors to your property are not invited at all. The category of trespassers includes door-to-door sellers, those wandering around, walkers and runners, and more. If a trespasser is injured on your property, you're likely not responsible for their damages.
However, you also cannot cause the trespasser to be hurt by your actions. For instance, you cannot create a hidden hazard for a trespasser to fall into and avoid the responsibility (which could be both financial and criminal).
You can avoid a lot of issues by posting signs. A sign gives a trespasser fair warning of being on private property. You might also be expected to post a sign if you live in certain areas:
- Near a hunting property.
- Near a popular walking or biking trail.
- When the property abuts a park, beach, etc.
- When your property has been used as a shortcut to somewhere else.
A Word About Children
The above information applies to adults who are in full possession of their faculties. Children are frequent trespassers because of their natural curiosity. With children, you must do more to prevent them from coming near dangerous things. You must lock up or fence off areas that would be considered attractive to children.
If you are being sued because of an injury that occurred on your property, speak to a personal injury attorney to find out more.