Can I Sue for a Slip and Fall if I Was Trespassing?
Trespassing is a term reserved for individuals that enter onto the property of another entity or individual without permission. That includes the lack of either express or implied permission to enter the premises.
In California, you could have a viable slip and fall claim against the property owner even in cases where you were trespassing. Like with invited guests, a trespasser must establish that the property owner failed to take reasonable steps to address the slip and fall hazard. A Los Angeles slip and fall lawyer could advise you of your legal rights even in cases where you were trespassing.
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How most states address liability for trespassers
Most jurisdictions follow the common law when it comes to determining liability in a slip and fall claim. This involves dividing all potential plaintiffs into one of three categories: invitees, licensees, or trespassers.
- Invitees. Invitees are owed the highest duty of care. They are individuals who enter another person’s property for the purpose of conducting business. Store customers are the most common example of invitees.
- Licensees. A licensee is also invited onto the property, but they enjoy fewer protections than Invitees. These include individuals that enter the property for their own purposes, like social guests.
- Trespassers. A trespasser enters another person’s property without express or implied permission.
Under the common law, property owners and occupiers generally owe invitees a duty to warn them of any hazards and take active steps to make the property safe. For licensees, property owners usually have the duty only to warn them of hazards they are aware of. In most states, property owners do not owe a duty to trespassers except as it relates to intentional harm.
How California addresses slip and fall liability for trespassers
California was one of the first states to reject the common law approach to premises liability. In 1968, the California Supreme Court determined that dividing injury victims into these three categories was unhelpful to the efforts of determining liability. Instead, they adopted a different approach that treats injury victims the same across the board. Whether a slip and fall injury victim was a trespasser or not, the court must consider the following factors when determining liability:
- The property location
- How likely a trespasser is to enter the property, and
- The likelihood of serious bodily injury.
If the court determines that a property owner should have anticipated that trespassers are likely to enter their property and that injuries were a possibility, they could hold the property owner accountable for any accidents that occur. Alternatively, remote property that is either unlikely to result in injuries or see many trespassers travel through is less likely to result in a viable slip and fall injury claim. A team of slip and fall lawyers could advise you on whether you are entitled to pursue a claim or not.
Compensation for a trespasser’s claims
If the court determines that a trespasser is entitled to compensation, they could recover the same monetary damages as anyone else. A slip & fall attorney could help you understand the nature of these damages prior to bringing a lawsuit. Some forms of compensation that could be available include:
- Medical bills. The cost of your medical care could make up a large portion of your potential monetary award.
- Lost wages. You have the right to seek damages for your lost wages resulting from your injury. Likewise, you can also pursue compensation for any future diminished earning power you will experience due to your injury.
- Pain and suffering. You can also pursue compensation for your physical pain and suffering you felt during and after the fall.
Discuss your slip and fall claim with an attorney