Neighbor's partygoer injured himself while on my lot...
My next door neighbor had a party and we have adjoining open lots. An attendee to my neighbor's party hurt himself while he wandered onto my property. I did not invite him onto my property nor did I extend the use of my property.
Am I liable for his injuries even though he was on my property without my consent? What are the liability issues here? Thanks for any explanation you can give.
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ANSWER for "Neighbor's partygoer injured himself while on my lot...":
NextDoor (Anywhere, USA):
To understand the legal doctrine concerning a property owner’s liability for injuries occurring on his or her property, you must understand the differences between an "Invitee," "Licensee," and "Trespasser."
An Invitee is a person who comes on to property to offer some material benefit to the property owner. For example, a customer in a store would be an Invitee.
A Licensee is a person who comes onto another’s property as a guest, and not for the purpose of transacting business. Licensees are also called social guests. The people at your neighbor’s party were licensees.
(While it might seem logical a person invited onto property as a social guest would be called an Invitee, and a person there to transact business be called a Licensee, but in fact it's just the opposite.)
A Trespasser is a person who comes onto another’s property or returns to another’s property without an invitation, or after being told by the property owner or property owner’s authorized agent not to return.
The owner of property has a legal duty of care to do everything within reason to be sure an Invitee or Licensee is safe from undue harm or injury. The same can’t be said for a property owner’s legal duty to a trespasser. Property owners do not have a legal duty of care to maintain their property in a manner so as not to unduly harm or injure a trespasser.
From the facts you present, technically the person who entered onto your property was a trespasser. This would be the case if your property was cordoned off by a fence or other barrier separating your property from your neighbor’s.
In your case, if your property was clearly separated from your neighbor's, and the guest climbed over, or otherwise crossed the physical barrier, then that person could be considered a trespasser. If he was, then you owed the guest no duty of care. As a result, you would not be liable for his injuries.
However, if there was no barrier, and the guest had no idea he was entering onto your property, then it is arguable he was a Licensee and you may be responsible for his injuries and resulting medical costs. In a case like this, where liability is questionable, you'd be smart to consult with a personal injury attorney in your area.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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