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If Someone Is Illegally on Your Property and Gets Hurt, Can He Sue You?

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on July 28, 2017

private-property-warning-no-trespassing-fence-gatePremises liability law in Seattle states that property owners are responsible for ensuring that any visitor will be kept safe while on their property. But there is a caveat: when someone is trespassing or otherwise on the property illegally, the property owner is not responsible for his or her safety.

The law seems very clear on this point. So why then, in some cases, are property owners still held liable when someone is on their property illegally and that person is hurt?

It depends on the situation.

Child Trespassers

Was the injured person a child? Was there a pool involved? Property owners who have a pool on the property must make sure that children cannot access the pool at any time without permission and supervision. That’s the law in Seattle, and all around the country. Pools are considered an “attractive nuisance” in the eyes of the law, and as such, they must be fenced on all four sides and equipped with a proper gate that will keep children out.

The idea behind this is that children simply cannot be held responsible for seeing a pool, hot tub, or other attractive nuisance and wanting to go inside it. Adults, on the other hand, should be able to foresee the problem and do everything they can to ensure that will not happen.

Known Trespassers

Another instance in which property owners could be sued if someone got hurt while illegally on their property is in the case of “discovered trespassers.” Discovered trespassers are people who often trespass on the property, and the property owner is aware of it. Whether the owner has seen the trespassers or simply the evidence the trespassers left behind doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the property owner is aware that people are entering the property and so, he must make sure it is as safe as possible for them to do so—or keep them out entirely.

Deliberate Dangers

Lastly, “willful and wanton conduct” on the part of the property owner will give anyone hurt while on the property illegally a strong case in order to sue. Willful and wanton conduct in premises liability is when a property owner purposely tries to hurt someone. This can be done by placing hazards that those who enter will stumble across, injuring themselves, or when the property owner otherwise tries to physically harm those on the property while they’re there.

If you have been injured while on someone’s property, or worse, a child was injured, contact the attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S., toll-free at (888) 228-3860. We’ll fight to protect your rights, and get you any compensation you may be entitled to.

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