In the bustling and diverse landscape of California, property ownership can be as rewarding as it is challenging. One of the complexities that property owners face relates to trespassers who are injured on their properties. What happens if a trespasser gets injured on your property? Who is liable?

At Setareh Law, we understand that trespassing laws can be confusing to navigate on your own. That’s why we are here to help make sure that your rights are protected if a trespasser was injured on your property. We will work hard to navigate the complexities of your case and help you every step of the way.

California Law and the Definitions of Visitors

In the state of California, the law provides specific guidelines on the status of visitors to a property. In broad terms, this status could either be that of an invitee, licensee, or trespasser, and each has varying levels of protection under the law.

An invitee is a person invited onto a property by the owner. This could be a customer in a store, a contractor invited for repairs, or a family friend. Property owners owe invitees the highest duty of care, meaning they must inspect the property for dangers and warn invitees of any hazards.

A licensee is someone permitted to be on the property, but not necessarily for the benefit of the property owner. For instance, meter readers and mail delivery persons fall under this category.

Lastly, we have trespassers. A trespasser is a person who enters someone else’s property without permission or the legal right to do so. Trespassers are owed the least duty of care, but the circumstances surrounding any injury are still scrutinized and can be subject to a few exceptions.

Duty of Care For All Visitors

A few exceptions to how much duty of care is owed to trespassers include:

Attractive Nuisances

One notable exception concerns minors and the concept of an “attractive nuisance.” If a property owner has something on their property that could entice a child to enter – a pool, trampoline, or a pet, for example – they could be held liable for injuries that occur, even if the child was trespassing. The rationale behind this is that children may not fully comprehend the potential risks associated with trespassing.

Refraining From Intentional Harm

Property owners in California have a duty to refrain from willfully or wantonly causing injury to a trespasser. This duty of non-malice means that property owners can’t intentionally harm trespassers except in cases of self-defense or defense of others.

Properties With Dangerous or Aggressive Dogs

Another aspect to consider is the presence of aggressive or dangerous dogs on a property. While many believe that a “Beware of Dog” sign absolves them of liability, this isn’t always the case. If a dog injures a trespasser, the property owner might be held responsible, especially if the dog has a known propensity for aggression.

Liability Against a Trespasser on Your Property

California law recognizes that property owners have a right to protect their homes and lands. However, the use of force must be measured, reasonable, and proportionate to the perceived threat. For example, if a trespasser poses an immediate threat of violence, a property owner may have the right to use defensive force.

When the Castle Doctrine Applies

The Castle Doctrine, originating from the age-old adage “a man’s home is his castle,” can be invoked in California under certain circumstances. This law allows a person to use deadly force within their own home if they have a reasonable fear of grave harm or death. But be warned: this doctrine is complex and carries specific conditions, and its applicability can vary depending on the circumstances.

Understanding the Fine Line

While self-defense laws provide a degree of protection to property owners, there’s a thin line between reasonable defense and excessive force. It’s essential to comprehend this distinction. Property owners could face criminal charges or civil liability if they overstep this boundary.

Considering Non-Violent Defenses

California law also allows property owners to employ non-violent methods to deter or confront trespassers. These methods could include verbal warnings, the use of security cameras, alarms, or even the involvement of law enforcement. Employing such strategies can protect property rights without escalating the situation to physical confrontation.

It’s important to remember that laws can be intricate and nuanced, making it necessary to seek professional legal guidance. If you find yourself in a situation involving trespassers, the team at Setareh Law is equipped with the expertise to provide personalized and comprehensive advice.

Protect Against Trespassers With Setareh Law Today

Whether you were injured during an alleged trespassing incident or you are being sued for a personal injury stemming from an alleged trespasser on your property, you need a strong and experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you and fight for the compensation you deserve.

At Setareh Law, we are committed to fighting for your rights and interests. Our lawyers will work closely with you to develop a customized legal strategy tailored to your specific situation and provide you with clear, honest counsel about your options and the impact each option may have on your case. Contact us online or call us at (310) 659-1826 today to schedule your free consultation and begin exploring your legal options.