Can Someone Sue If They Are Injured While Trespassing on a Property?
If someone sustains an injury while trespassing on your property, can they sue? The answer is yes. But it’s not likely that they will be successful in their suit. If a trespasser is injured on your property, you are not liable except under specific circumstances.
You Are Not Liable for Injuries to Trespassing Parties Unless:
1. You, the property owner, behaved violently or aggressively to the trespassing party, and the violent/aggressive behavior caused the injury.
2. You, the property owner, were grossly negligent, or there is a commonly accepted expectation that people will trespass onto the property. For example, if you have prior knowledge of an obvious hazard on the property and do not take steps to post a warning, you could be liable even if the injured party is trespassing at the time of their accident.
When Are Property Owners Not Liable for Injuries to Trespassers?
Chasing trespassing parties off your property is not grounds for liability. Using a reasonable degree of force when someone is trespassing is not grounds for liability, either. However, using deadly force to insist a trespasser leave your property is not appropriate unless there is a dire threat of bodily harm.
What About Trespassers Who Are Engaged in Illegal Activities?
The Texas Supreme Court ruled that landowners are not responsible for trespassers’ injuries if the injuries are self-inflicted and that landowners are not responsible for injuries when preventing or stopping criminal activity. For example, if someone trespasses while smuggling drugs, they are engaged in a criminal act. In this example, the court would not hold the property owner responsible for injuries sustained by the trespassing parties. In Texas, liability rights err on the side of the property owner in trespassing cases.
Are Property Owners Required to Post “No Trespassing” Signs?
Posting a No Trespassing sign is a good idea. If you own property in Texas with significant acreage or have general concerns about trespassing, posting signs can be useful. Posted signs can assist potential trespassers in determining where the property line is and could offer property owners liability protection. In some cases, whether or not entering a property is considered “trespassing” could hinge on whether or not a verbal or written notice was issued or in place on the property.
Where Should Signs Be Placed on the Property?
If you are considering posting No Trespassing signs on your property to protect you against liability issues, start with the entrance to your property. Post additional No Trespassing signs along normal travel routes – particularly if there is no fence along the property lines. A fence is considered an appropriate “notice” that a piece of land is private property. Some landowners designate property lines by placing paint marks on trees. Additional signs could be added to the property to warn of any potential hazards on the property. Adding potential hazard signs creates another layer of liability protection against accidental injuries that may occur on the property.
If you are injured while accidentally trespassing, the property owner may be liable for your injuries. Whether you are injured or a property owner facing an injured trespasser claim, the best move to make is consulting an experienced premises liability attorney at Hudson Law Firm. We’ll be happy to help you determine your best course of action. We put Personal back into Personal Injury Law.