Is a landowner liable for a trespasser’s injuries?

man climbing fence

Mississippi requires that property owners identify and remove hazards from the property as soon as possible. If property owners do not remove hazards, then they can be held liable for any injuries that may result from their failure to exercise proper care in removing those hazards. Typically, in a premises liability case, you will see someone injured after a landlord or property owner fails to remove or correct hazards on the property. Examples of this can include common slip-and-fall scenarios or lack-of-security. But what happens when a trespasser is injured?

When a person is illegally on someone else’s property, that person is known as a trespasser. Because they are on the property illegally, the law tends to favor the property owner. The general rule is that the trespasser would not have been injured but for them violating the law by being a trespasser.

That being said, because a trespasser is illegally on someone else’s property, that does not mean that the trespasser loses all of his rights. For example, if there is a hazardous condition that a landowner could foresee as causing an injury, then the landowner may likely be liable for any injuries stemming from such an injury. This is common in those cases where a child drowns in an unsecured pool.

Another example is if the landowner creates the hazard or dangerous condition. For example, let’s say that a person is trespassing on a landowner’s property by cutting through a field. The landowner, knowing that the person is trespassing and hoping to teach them a lesson, sets up a trap, and the trespasser is injured from that trap. In a situation like that, there is a good chance that the landowner will be found liable, because they had a duty NOT to create a dangerous condition.

Each premises liability case is unique, and the chances of success depend on the details of each case. Always contact an attorney as soon as possible if you have been injured on someone else’s property (even while trespassing). It is safe to say that if you are a property owner who is concerned about trespassers on your property, you should still take the necessary precautions to ensure anyone coming onto your property is safe from any and all hazardous conditions.