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Homeowners may be liable for trespassers' injuries

When a Virginian is injured on another's property, he or she may expect that the homeowner will be held responsible for the unsafe or dangerous conditions that contributed to the injury. However, what happens if a person trespasses, was involved in an accident and suffered an injury? Does trespassing negate the homeowner's responsibility to maintain safe conditions on their property? Interestingly, no; a homeowner could still be liable for a person's injuries despite the occurrence of trespassing.

Generally, landowners are not obligated to protect trespassers, which are individuals who enter onto their property without permission. They cannot, however, willfully injure trespassers. Despite that, some property owners maintain properties that by their nature are more dangerous and contain more hazardous conditions than others. For such a property, the owner has an increased responsibility for how he or she handles dangerous property conditions.

If a property owner knows or should know that trespassers are likely to enter his or her property, the property owner may have a duty to give reasonable warning of dangers that exist on the property. Property owners will have this duty when the property owner has created or maintains artificial conditions that he or she knows may cause death or serious injury.

To be held liable, the dangerous condition must be one that a property owner believes trespassers will not discover, whether due to its location or other reasons. A court will consider whether a property owner failed to exercise reasonable care in warning those entering onto the property without permission of the dangerous condition and its risk before determining liability.

If you have been injured on another's property, even if you may not have had permission to be on that property, you may be able to recover compensation. It may be wise to speak with an attorney to discuss your rights and options.

Source: FindLaw, "Homeowner Liability for Trespasser Injuries," accessed Nov. 27, 2015

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