The answer to the question “Can I sue if I get hurt while trespassing?” depends on the situation you are in when you get hurt. Even if you are trespassing on someone else’s property, the property owner does not have a right to hurt you. Further, you must be aware that you are trespassing, and property owners may be responsible if they knew or should have known that people frequently trespassed on their property.
You Can Sue for Intentional Harm
If you are trespassing, the property owner should call the police. When property owners take matters into their own hands, they may be responsible for any injuries they cause. For example, you can sue someone who shoots at you or otherwise uses deadly force against you.
Unless you are trying to harm the property owner or their family, the property owner may not use deadly force to protect their property.
Similarly, property owners who know you are trespassing cannot set booby traps, trip wires, bear traps, tiger pits, or other devices designed to harm trespassers.
If you or someone you know suffers intentional harm, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit and recover money for medical bills, missed wages, and other losses. The laws vary by state, so be sure you speak with a local lawyer!
You Can Sue If You Didn’t Know You Were Trespassing
Be mindful of “no trespassing” signs and fences that are designed to keep you out of a certain area or property. If you intentionally go onto someone else’s property without permission, you cannot usually sue them if you slip, trip, or fall on their property.
On the contrary, you may still have the right to a lawsuit if you did not know you were trespassing. For example, consider you accidentally wandered into the “off-limits” part of a store. The individual or entity who owns the store may be responsible for any injuries you suffer during a slip, trip, or fall accident – especially if the store owner did not post a “no entry” or “employees only” sign to keep you away.
In many cases, negligent property owners will try to use trespassing as a defense to premises liability lawsuits, but you cannot be a trespasser if you did not know you were not allowed on someone else’s property.
In some states, property owners can also be responsible for unsafe conditions in areas they knew or should have known were popular among trespassers. If trespassers frequently sleep in an abandoned, falling apart house, for instance, and the house collapses, the property owner may be liable for any injuries that occur. In this situation, the property owner should have torn down the house because they knew it was unsafe and they knew people were trespassing on the property.
This responsibility may not apply if the property owner made continued efforts to keep trespassers off of the property. As a general rule of thumb, if you jump a fence or ignore a “no trespassing” sign, you will not be able to file a lawsuit.
Children Cannot Be Trespassers
When a child gets hurt on someone else’s property, the property owner will almost always be liable for the child’s injuries. Children do not understand the concept of trespassing, so they cannot be trespassers.
Additionally, attractive nuisance laws require property owners to keep children away from unsafe conditions they may find fascinating. For example, property owners should build a high fence around their swimming pool or man-made fountain because curious children could enter the property and drown.
Many attractive nuisance laws do not specify the age of the “children” in question, so property owners should also be cautious of local teenagers. If a teenager gets hurt while climbing on a neighbor’s roof or hanging out in a treehouse, the court may decide the property owner is liable for the teen’s injuries.
What If I Slip, Trip, or Fall on Someone Else’s Property?
Anytime you get hurt on someone else’s property, you should seek the medical treatment you need and speak to an attorney. The details of your case may not be as black and white as they seem, and many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations.
To find out whether you are eligible for compensation or not and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of a potential legal claim, please contact Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC. Our attorneys are available 24/7 to discuss your rights and legal options and offer tough and caring legal support.
There are no upfront costs and fees, and you won’t owe us any money unless we recover compensation on your behalf, so do not hesitate to call us at (866) 675-4427 or send us a message online!