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Am I Liable if a Trespasser is Injured on My Property?

children jumping on a trampoline

Summertime comes with an influx of backyard activities and entertainment like trampolines and pools. For many, it may also come with a peak in property trespassers, especially kids from the neighborhood lured by the temptation of fun. Some kids may let themselves into your backyard without you knowing, or maybe even while you yourself are away on vacation. But what happens if they sustain an injury on your property while enjoying your backyard equipment? What happens when uninvited guests are injured on your property? Lansing personal injury lawyer, Bryan Waldman, recently appeared on WLNS 6 “Legal News” to remind property owners and renters of their responsibility to ensure safety, and also to answer the commonly asked question “am I liable if a trespasser is injured on my property?”

Property Liability Basics

A property owner’s or renter’s responsibility to someone on their property depends on the status of the visit. The duty of care is highest for people on the property for business purposes, such as maintenance or repair personnel or a delivery person. The next highest standard is to an invited guest whereas the lowest standard applies to trespassers or uninvited guests. Generally, landowners and renters are not going to be responsible for harm or injury caused to a trespasser. However, there are some exceptions.

Exceptions to Trespasser Premises Liability

Age of Trespasser

Whether or not the injured person is a child or an adult factors into the duty of care standard. In cases of injured adults, the landowner typically has to conduct egregious conduct that resulted in the trespasser’s injuries in order to be held liable. In these instances, landowners typically must engage in willful misconduct or inflict intentional injuries or harm. Additionally, property owners may also be liable when they know a trespasser is on their property and take willful action resulting in injuring the uninvited guest.

Attractive Nuisance – Pools and Trampolines

Another exception in premises liability occurs when the property owner has an “attractive nuisance” in their yard. An attractive nuisance is classified as being attractive to children, such as a swimming pool or trampoline, which tempts children to use that equipment. Because of their age or their youth, they are unable to appreciate the risk of harm or injury. In these situations, property owners and renters have a heightened duty to a trespasser who is a child. The law in Michigan essentially says that landowners can be responsible in those situations if they know they have equipment or toys that are likely to entice children and won’t appreciate the risk of harm due to their age.

Protecting Yourself from Trespasser Property Liability

If you are wondering “am I liable if a trespasser is injured on my property?” Bryan recommends always using common sense to best protect yourself. One of the best measures of protection, when you have an attractive nuisance on your property, is to secure it safely. You can make your pool safer by enclosing it with a fence and installing a locking gate. You can also increase the safety of your trampoline by erecting netting around it with a closeable zipper entrance. These simple steps will help better protect landowners and renters in instances of uninvited guess property liability.