Get the facts on how premises liability works for trespassing cases.
Though it is true that trespassing affects the status of your case, it doesn't mean that there automatically wouldn't be a case. This is because a trespasser is still owed some general duties from the property owner. There are three types of visitors to a property: invitee, licensee, and trespasser. Trespasser is the third of the three types. This means that out of duties owed from the property owner to the visitor, trespasser is at the bottom of the list. To read more about all three classes of visitor, read the general page on premises liability. Since a trespasser is someone who is not welcome to the property, they are not owed the same duties as someone who has been invited to the property. However, this doesn't mean that a trespasser is never owed any duties. This depends on the type or status of the trespasser, and the level of negligence of the property owner.
Types of Trespassers Under Texas Law
There are numerous examples of people that would be considered trespassers, and each of these have a slightly different distinction, according to the situation. Some examples of trespassers, according to Texas Cause of Action Chapter 23-D, Liability to Trespassers, include:
- Child who does not qualify under the attractive nuisance doctrine(Read more about the attractive nuisance doctrine.)
- A subtenant who did not have permission to lease from the original property owner.
- An employee who goes to an area of the workplace not designated by the employer.
- A friend of the employee who enters the workplace uninvited by the employer.
- Someone who hunts without the property owner's permission.
- Someone who uses another person's property for recreational use without permission.
- Someone who was originally a licensee, and was invited to the premises, but wandered off to another area of the premises without permission, thereby becoming a trespasser.
It may seem that any trespasser status will result in a cut-and-dried solution, but in fact, trespasser status has many different levels of fault, and those levels can change according to the conditions or circumstances.
How Trespasser Status Might Change
According to the same Chapter, 23-D, of the Texas Cause of Action, the status of a visitor in premises liability cases can be upgraded or downgraded to or from the status of trespasser. The four main instances when someone who was considered a trespasser can be upgraded to the status of licensee or invitee are:
- A child trespasser who qualifies under the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine. (See link earlier on this page which explains the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in more detail.)
- A tolerated trespasser- In this situation, the property owner has been made aware of the fact that the trespasser has been a repeat offender. In this case, if the property owner is aware of the trespasser and has not done anything to prevent or discourage this act from happening, the property owner may still be held liable.
- Emergency trespasser- Someone who has not been invited to the property but who only trespasses for the purpose of seeking help for some sort of emergency.
- Volunteer rescuer trespasser- Someone who has not been invited to the property but who only trespasses for the purpose of providing help for some sort of emergency.
A person may be downgraded to trespasser from invitee or licensee if they make an unforeseen departure to another part of the property. If you attend a party at your friend's house, you would usually be considered a licensee, but as soon as you leave the general living space where the party is located and begin to wander to the garage or the basement, you are now a trespasser and the property owner would not be liable for any injuries you sustain.
When is the property owner always responsible for injuries sustained to a trespasser?
The property owner is always responsible if acting out of gross negligence.This page will give you more information on the facts of gross negligence. An example for gross negligence for trespassing cases would be if the property owner(s) purposely setting up traps in order to harm or kill potential trespassers to the property.
How to find out more about your case
If you were injured on someone else's property, and aren't sure what status of visitor you were, you'll need a law firm that specializes in these types of cases. Grossman Law has handled many premises liability cases and will know exactly what you're dealing with. If you have any questions, you can call 24/7 at (855)326-0000. The expert attorneys at Grossman Law will provide you with answers and be ready to support you when you've decided to file a claim. You will never be charged a cent unless we win.