Can Trespassers Get Compensation if They Slip and Fall on Someone’s Property?
Trespassing on someone else’s property is generally not a wise idea, but accidents can happen even to those who venture where they shouldn’t. The question that often arises in these cases is whether a trespasser has the right to seek compensation for injuries sustained on someone’s property.
The question is critical in cases involving children who are hurt after wandering onto someone’s property. Our Fox Cities premises liability lawyers at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers can provide valuable guidance and legal support when navigating these complex situations.
What is a Trespasser Under Wisconsin Premises Liability Law?
Under Wisconsin premises liability law (sec 895.529), a trespasser is any person who enters or remains on someone else’s property without express or implied consent. Legally, the definition applies to adults and children who come onto an owner, lessee, tenant, or lawful occupant’s property.
For example, trespassers can include someone who is on the property:
- Without the owner’s permission
- After being asked to leave
- For illegal purposes, such as stealing or vandalizing property
- Acts in a disruptive or dangerous way
- Without the owner’s knowledge or invitation, such as a child who ventured into their neighbor’s yard
Can a Trespasser Get Compensation if They’re Hurt on Someone’s Property?
Generally, property owners or managers are not liable for injuries suffered by trespassers on their properties. Liability typically only applies in rare circumstances when a property owner or occupant causes deliberate harm to the trespasser, such as setting traps or intentionally causing injury. However, this does not apply if the property owner used force for self-defense.
This means that in most cases, someone injured by trespassing does not have the right to receive compensation for their damages under Wisconsin premises liability statutes.
Are There Any Exceptions for Injured Trespassers?
There is an exception to the limited liability of property owners for trespasser injuries involving children. Children are not always aware of the risks associated with trespassing, and they can be drawn to certain features or objects on a property that may pose dangers.
These potentially hazardous elements are known as attractive nuisances. Common attractive nuisances include:
- Unsecured swimming pools. A swimming pool left accessible without proper fencing or security measures.
- Trampolines. Unattended trampolines can attract curious children and pose injury risks.
- Playground equipment. Abandoned or accessible playground equipment may entice children to play, potentially leading to accidents.
- Construction areas. Unsecured construction sites with enticing equipment or materials can be dangerous for children.
- Abandoned vehicles. Abandoned cars, trucks, or machinery can entice children who may climb on or inside them.
- Open wells or pits. Uncovered wells or pits on property also pose a grave risk to curious children who may inadvertently fall in.
Per Wisconsin Statute 895.529(b), property owners are liable for the death or injury of a child if:
- They maintained an artificial condition on the property that was inherently dangerous to children
- They knew of or should have known that a child trespassed on the property
- The attractive nuisance posed a risk of severe bodily harm or death to children
- The child did not realize the risk due to their youth
- They failed to implement reasonable safeguards that would not have interfered with the condition’s intended purpose
Legal Options for Children Who are Hurt on Another’s Property
If your child is injured due to a dangerous condition on someone else’s property, you may have legal options for compensation. Our Fox Cities premises liability attorneys can help you explore the following avenues for receiving a settlement for your child’s injuries:
- Premises liability claim: You may be able to file a premises liability claim with the homeowners’ or renters’ insurance of the property owner. This claim seeks compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other damages resulting from the injury. Most policies carry a minimum of $100,000 for bodily injury liability, with many having between $300,000 and $500,000. Depending on the damages, you can receive up to the policy limit in a settlement.
- Lawsuit: If an insurance claim does not result in a fair settlement, you may file a lawsuit against the property owner to recover damages. While this is typically against the insurance company, if they refuse to settle or honor your claim, you can file directly against the homeowner. Our attorneys can help you understand the risks and benefits of filing a lawsuit and represent you in court.
Speak With a Premises Liability Injury Attorney Today
If your child was hurt on someone else’s property due to attractive nuisance negligence, speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Our Fox Cities premises liability lawyers can help you understand your child’s rights and seek compensation to pay for their medical expenses and other damages.
Contact us today to set up a free, confidential consultation to help you understand your options and the best course of action to pursue a settlement on your child’s behalf.