Can I Sue for a Slip and Fall if I Was Trespassing?
Slips, trips, and falls account for a significant portion of injuries in New York and across the country. According to the National Fall Safety Institute, they result in more than 8 million hospital visits annually. In many cases, you could have a claim for monetary compensation if your fall occurred due to a hazard on another person’s property. This might not be the case if you were trespassing, however.
Your right to recovery is much weaker if you are a trespasser compared to a guest. In fact, there are many circumstances where the property owner will owe you nothing regardless of the nature of the hazard. Our New York City slip and fall lawyers can advise you when a property owner could face civil liability.
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Civil liability for slip and fall injuries
A landowner is only responsible for these injuries if they violated a duty of care they held to the injured person. This varies depending on whether or not the injured person had the right to be there. For example, a property owner owes a much higher duty to a customer or a social guest– than it would a trespasser.
Once a plaintiff establishes a duty of care, they must next prove that the property owner was negligent. This proof will depend on the nature of the hazard. Some natural hazards are impossible to remove– like caves or ponds. In these situations, they could be negligent by failing to post warnings.
The issue with trespassers, however, is that most property owners will never owe them a duty of care. In general, trespassers assume the risk of injury when they enter property unlawfully. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule.
When trespassers are covered
If a landowner knows or has been made aware that someone is trespassing on their land—they could be responsible. They find evidence, for example, that a group of people are camping out, illegally, on their property in a large wooded area, and they fail to address an obvious hazard– they could face civil liability for any injuries that occur.
There is a different standard that applies to children that trespass. This is because most children are unaware of the risks that could befall them. Many children also lack the understanding of property boundaries, as well.
If the property contains a dangerous hazard that is likely to attract a child, the property owner is required to secure the hazard to prevent injuries. If they fail to do this, they could face civil liability for injuries that occur to a child, even if they were trespassing.
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If you or a loved suffered a slip and fall injury while trespassing, you could have a viable claim for monetary compensation. While these claims provide unique challenges, a personal injury lawyer can advise you of your legal options.
Our New York City personal injury lawyers have proudly served as advocates for the injured in slip and fall cases for more than two decades. To learn how we can help, schedule a free consultation right away.