The reason people have premises liability insurance for their home or business is to insure that if someone gets injured on their property, and it was because of their negligence, they would have the funds to pay for the person’s damages from their policy.
As a property owner, you have a responsibility to keep your home or business safe. If there is a hazard that you know about, it is your duty to tell anyone who comes on your property about it.
But what happens if a trespasser gets injured on your property? Can he file a claim or sue you? You can be confident that, normally, you will not be held liable in this scenario. After all, if there was a hazard you were aware of, you’re certainly not legally responsible to inform the trespasser about it. Nonetheless, there are circumstances when you may not be free from blame.
When can you be held liable when a trespasser gets injured on your property?
It may seem strange that you could ever be held accountable for a trespasser’s injury, yet there are certain times that you could be.
- Suppose people trespass on your property with regularity, perhaps using it as a shortcut, and you know about it and allow it. You know that there are one or more safety hazards on the property. If you do not tell these particular trespassers that you frequently see come and go, and they get injured, you could be liable. The best thing for you to do in a circumstance like this is to put up a sign saying trespassing on your property could be dangerous.
- Although you can protect yourself from intruders into your home, you cannot use deadly force to protect the property. You can only use deadly force if you are immediately threatened within your own home.
- If you have a dog that bites and is vicious, and a trespasser is harmed by the animal, you may be liable. Circumstances will have to be investigated to make a determination.
- One very important aspect of New York law relating to premises liability is the “Attractive Nuisance” doctrine. The usual legal protections a property owner has against being sued for trespasser injuries does not apply under this doctrine. The attractive nuisance doctrine usually applies to children who are curious, or who get lost, or just wander onto your property. If you have a pool and they get injured or they drown, you would likely be held responsible for not having enclosed the pool area to prevent a child from entering it. A child will find a pool a attractive and might go in without realizing the dangers. This can extend to fountains, tree houses, wells, tunnels, trampolines, playground equipment, a workshop with tools, a dangerous animal, and more. It can pertain to anything on your property that poses a danger to a trespassing child that you have not secured and should have known would attract a child.
For your own peace of mind and the well-being of anyone who may trespass on your property, be sure to post signs about and secure any dangerous areas, and make them child-proof.
If you or a loved one is the victim of a premise accident caused by the carelessness or negligence of a property owner, please give us a call. As New York premises liability attorneys, we know the law and are experienced in dealing with such accidents. We would like to help you in any way possible.
If you have any questions about this article or any other questions related to personal injury law, please call us toll free at 1-800-LAW-1333. Our personal injury consultations are always free.
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