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How safe does your property have to be?

The law is not always simple to understand when it comes to the boundaries between personal property and personal responsibility, especially when it comes to premises liability and trespassing.

Many of us have heard stories of burglaries that do not go to plan and end in the alleged trespasser suffering a serious injury, only to turn around and sue the owner of the property for the injury. These sorts of stories have basis in fact, and depending on the state where you live, you may have very different boundaries to your right to protect yourself than residents of another state may enjoy.

Premises liability

Both property owners and non-owner occupants bear a legal responsibility to keep their properties reasonably safe. If a person comes to your home and suffers an injury while on your property, there is a very strong chance that you may find yourself on the receiving end of a premises liability claim to compensate that person for the injury.

However, there are limits to this liability, including the actions of the individual who suffers the injury. If, for instance, a visitor enters an area that is locked and has signage that warns of something dangerous on the other side of the door, then the victim may not have a valid claim. This may apply to guests, family, customers and anyone else who comes to your property within the law.

Trespassing and liability

Here is where things get very tricky, and the details of each different circumstance heavily affect how a court may rule. A trespasser is, by definition, someone who does not have the legal right to be in the place where they are. This does not mean that courts always rule against trespassers in premises liability suits, but it may stack the deck against them, so to speak.

In general terms, trespassers usually forfeit some or all of the liability protections that other rightful guests enjoy. Depending on the response of the property owner or occupants and the events that led to a trespasser's injury, a court may rule that the owner or occupant still bears full or partial liability for an injury, so make sure that you clearly understand what the laws say about your specific circumstances before you take legal action.

Protecting yourself begins immediately

If you find yourself in a conflict involving premises liability and alleged trespassing, do not wait a single day before you build a strong legal strategy. These conflicts may play out many different ways, so waiting to build your legal protections only hurts your chances of keeping your rights secure once the courts get involved. Take great care to keep your best interests secure with excellent legal tools and guidance as soon as possible, for your own sake and for those who depend on you.

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