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Homeowners owe some duty of care to trespassers

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2021 | Personal Injury

Most property owners in Indiana understand that they owe a duty of care to their guests. Inviting people onto your property when there are dangerous conditions present could open you up to a premises liability claim. If someone is injured after tripping on an unmarked hole in your lawn, for example, you may be liable.

Did you know that you owe a duty of care to trespassers on your property as well as invited guests? As surprising as that may sound, trespassers can file a premises liability claim in some rare circumstances.

Three types of visitors

There are three different types of visitors on private property that are entitled to different levels of care by the homeowner. The categories are invitees, licensees and trespassers. The last category of visitor, the trespasser, is entitled to the lowest level of care by the homeowner. Depending on the nature of the trespassing incident, a homeowner may owe a little care or no care at all to a trespasser.

Flagrant trespassers and innocent trespassers

People that flagrantly trespass onto property are usually owed no duty of care by the homeowner. In other words, if a person intentionally trespasses when they understand that they are not invited onto a property, they cannot sue the property owner after tripping over a pothole. On the other hand, a door-to-door salesman may be able to sue for injuries caused by a broken porch step, as long as they were never told that they were not welcome on the property.

Homeowners may owe a higher duty of care to young children that trespass on their property. If an attractive hazard is highly visible in the front yard, for example, a homeowner could be held liable if children are injured while trying to access it.