Questions about injury claims and liability for trespassers...

by Annie
(Brookline, MA)

I have several questions I hope you can answer for me:

If there is a fence around a property and the uninvited plaintiff gets hurt crawling over that fence, can he sue the homeowner?

If a contractor has put equipment on your home site and a trespasser climbs up on it and gets hurt, is the homeowner liable?

If two teenagers who are not known to you are playing in a shed on your property, knock it over, and one of the kids gets hurt, can the homeowner be considered negligent?

Thank you in advance for your explanation of liability in these scenarios.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Questions about injury claims and liability for trespassers...":

Annie (Brookline, MA):

Addressing your questions requires a basic understanding of the legal principles of Invitee, Licensee and Trespasser.

A Licensee is a person who comes onto someone’s property for the licensee’s own benefit. For example, a licensee would be an invited guest to a birthday party, or a friend who comes onto the property to visit with the homeowner.

An Invitee is someone who is impliedly or overtly invited onto someone's property for the benefit of the property owner. For example, an invitee would be a person who goes into a store to buy milk, or a carpenter on the property to install shelving.

A Trespasser is a person who comes onto property without the implied or overt permission of the property owner. For example, a trespasser would be a person who, without permission of the property owner, climbs over a fence onto someone's property. Trespassers are normally responsible for all the consequences of their actions when coming onto a person’s property without implied or overt permission.

Let’s take a look at your questions one to a time...

First: "If there is a fence around a property and the uninvited plaintiff gets hurt crawling over that fence, can he sue the homeowner?"

The person who climbed over the fence can be considered a trespasser. As a trespasser, he or she was responsible for the consequences of his or her own actions, including the injuries sustained when climbing over the fence while committing the trespass.

Second: "If a contractor has put equipment on your home site and a trespasser climbs up on it and gets hurt, is the homeowner liable?"

The homeowner should not be liable for the injuries another person sustains when that person was committing a trespass.

Third: "If two teenagers who are not known to you are playing in a shed on your property, knock it over, and one of the kids gets hurt, can the homeowner be considered negligent?"

The homeowner should not be liable for injuries sustained by the boys as long as the homeowner had not previously invited the boys onto his or her property, and as a result, the boys would have had a reasonable expectation that they were allowed to come back onto the property.

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,

Judge Calisi

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