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Can Pennsylvanian homeowners be liable for an injured trespasser?

It is not uncommon for homeowners in Pennsylvania to have visitors enter and remain on his or her property. This could be a simple event that could have no adverse effects. However, if there are dangers or hazards on the property, liability could be placed on a homeowner for the injuries suffered by the guest. Does the same homeowner liability extend to injured trespassers?

In many situations, the answer is no because a property owner is not obligated to protect trespassers who enter or remain on his or her property without permission. Despite that, there are four common ways a property owners could be held liable for injures suffered by an individual without permissive entry on the property.

First, a homeowner could be liable for injures suffered by a trespasser, if the property owner was the one that created or maintained the unsafe condition. Next, if the unsafe condition is likely to cause death or serious bodily harm, then the property owner could be held liable. Third, if the unsafe condition that injured the trespasser were such conditions that the owner had reason to believe that a trespasser would not discover it, the property owner could be held liable. Last, if it is found that the homeowner failed to exercise reasonable care to warn possible trespassers of the unsafe or dangerous conditions, then he or she could be liable for the injuries suffered by the trespasser.

With regards to trespassing children, a different rule applies because of the naive nature of children and their inability to spot dangers and acknowledge the seriousness of them. Because of this, property owners have the duty to inspect his or her property to ensure that any potentially dangerous conditions that might attract children, such as a swimming pool, playground, heavy machinery or a well. If one of these potential hazards is discovered, the property owner must take immediate action to correct the hazard.

While homeowners are not always liable for the injuries caused to a trespasser on his or her property, injured trespassers should understand the situations or dangerous conditions that could hold a property owner liable for injuries caused on their property. Those harmed by unsafe conditions on another party should seek to understand the rights afforded to them and whether a premises liability suit is in his or her interest.

Source:, "Homeowner Liability for Trespasser Injuries," accessed on Aug. 23, 2015

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