Personal Injury Facts: Premises Liability & Trespassing Laws

You were on someone else’s property. The property contained a hazard which caused a serious accident and injury. You think the property owner should have protected others from the hazard, but there’s one problem: you were trespassing at the time of your slip and fall. Do you still have a case? Could you still collect damages? Could the property owner still be partially at fault?

What Exactly Is Trespassing?

Trespassing is generally defined as when a person enters a property without permission, or when a person stays on a property without continued permission, even if they were welcomed initially. Trespassing can be forgivable in some cases, such as when a child trespasses out of ignorance, or if an adult unknowingly trespasses because of a lack of signage or property lines. On the other hand, trespassing also could be malicious, such as when someone trespasses in order to damage property or steal.

California Premises Liability Law and Trespassing

In the majority of cases, trespassing will harm your California slip and fall case. However, it is important to consider both why you were trespassing and the nature of your accident before assuming you do not have a viable injury case. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why were you trespassing? There’s a big difference between someone who broke into a property with malicious intent and someone who accidentally wandered onto a property. A jury might side with a property owner if the injury victim knowingly broke the law, compared to someone who took a popular shortcut across private property.
  • Was the owner aware of regular trespassers? Trespassing may be more forgivable if the landowner didn’t do much to prevent trespassers, such as putting up barriers or signs—especially if many people in the community regularly use the property.
  • Was the owner aware of obvious dangers? You may have a case if the property owner had a very obvious hazard on the land with no warnings or preventative measures. Even when it comes to trespassers, the owner has a duty not to inflict unjustifiable injury.
  • Was the property marked? Trespassing can be forgiven if the property lines were unclear.
  • Were children trespassing? Because children may not be aware of trespassing or of dangerous conditions, they are treated differently under the law.
  • Were the trespassers intentionally injured by the landowner? Property owners are not allowed to intentionally harm trespassers, such as with a trap.

Orange County Personal Injury Attorney

The best way to determine whether your slip and fall injury case will be affected by trespassing is to speak with a lawyer about the details of your case. At Russell & Lazarus, we offer free, private consultations in which you can ask questions, tell your story, and seek the legal guidance you need. Call today to schedule your meeting: (949) 851-0222.

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