The intentional entering of the property of another who has exclusive right to possession of that property is a trespass. It goes without saying that the trespasser must not have had the permission of the property owner (i.e., the individual must not be an invitee or a licensee), and his presence on the property must have caused damage either to the property itself or to the property owner’s right of exclusivity.
Known vs. Unknown Trespassers
While trespassers have no legal right to be on your property, you may still owe them a duty of reasonable care that there are no hazards on your property that could cause injury. If there are any such hazards, you must provide the trespasser with adequate warning of any such hazards. That duty is owed only to “known” trespassers.
Trespassers are either known or unknown. That is to say, if the property owner has been put on notice that a person or persons are entering onto his property without his permission, such as any visible signs, including the appearance of leftover trash on the property, footprints, or any other type of disturbances that would indicate the presence of people, the property owner is required to make the property reasonably safe so that these trespassers may not be injured. Likewise, the property owner cannot “booby trap” the property so as to keep trespassers away. The property owner will be liable for any damages caused to trespassers, known or unknown, as a result of any hazards deliberately placed on the property to stop trespassing.
Licensees and Invitees
Licensees are individuals who have no contractual relationship with the property owner. The property owner has given the licensee permission to enter the property for a specific reason. If you are having a party and invite guests, those invited guests are licensees and you owe them a duty of care that they will not be injured while on your property.
Invitees are those individuals that have been invited onto your property for a lawful purpose. For instance, if you are a homeowner and you hire a plumber or electrician to do some work on your house, that plumber or electrician is an Invitee. Your duty to your invitees is to keep the property safe from potential hazardous conditions that will cause injury.
Can a licensee or an invitee become a trespasser? In a word, “yes.” If you have invited an individual to enter your property for a specific purpose, either as a house guest or a contractor, and that individual is uninvited by you for whatever reason; if that uninvited licensee or invitee refuses to leave the premises, they are now a trespasser. All the legal issues, rights and remedies that apply to trespassers will apply here.
The laws are specific as to the rights of property owners for damage caused to their property as a result of a trespass. The laws are equally specific when it comes to any recovery for damages as a result of injuries caused to an individual whose presence on the property may or may not be with permission. If you are involved in a dispute over property rights and liabilities, or personal injury, you will need an experienced personal injury law attorney. Please contact us today, by phone at 1-877-363-7942, or take advantage of our online case evaluation form to schedule your initial case review.
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