No Trespassing: Why You Shouldn’t Cross the Line

Hundreds of years ago the United States consisted of lands that just about anyone was free to travel upon. Since that time, however, most land has become public or private property and is no longer open to free passage in many cases. Some people still decide to trespass on property belonging to someone else. This act is both civilly and criminally punishable, so it really isn’t ever a great idea. Trespassing on land that is clearly posted with ‘No Trespassing’ signs can bring troubles and even result in injuries that may be difficult to get compensation.

Possible Penalties

As mentioned earlier, trespassing constitutes a civil tort and a criminal act. For an act to be considered trespassing a person usually has to know that the land they are entering is private property. The posting of a ‘No Trespassing’ sign usually dictates that a person cannot claim that they were unaware of the property’s status.

Trespassing also doesn’t require that a person actually enter another’s property. Simply throwing a physical object onto another person’s land can be considered trespassing. Whether a person enters the posted property or throws something into it, they are civilly liable. This means that a trespasser is liable for any damage that occurs on the property due to the trespass. The property owner can actually even bring suit against the trespasser even if there was no property damage due to the fact that trespassing in itself is considered a tort.

A trespasser can also be held criminally responsible for their actions. If a person continues trespassing on someone’s land, the property owner can file for injunctive relief which is basically a court order that says a person must stop trespassing upon their land. If the trespasser decides that it is still a good idea to enter the property after this point then they can be arrested for criminal contempt of court.

Injuries to the Trespasser

Any accident lawyer NY law firm would warn a person against trespassing on another’s property due to the possibilities of sustaining injuries. A trespasser doesn’t belong on the private property they are infringing upon, which usually means that they are unaware of any dangers that may exist on the land. Cases where a person is injured due to another person violating some duty usually end with some form of compensation being given to the injured party, but trespassing can turn this into a gray area.

An ‘undiscovered trespasser’ is a trespasser that the property owner is unaware of. Property owners rarely have any duty to these people because even if they had a duty to warn a person of a specific danger, they were unable to do so due to the undiscovered nature of the trespasser. In many areas the only duty owed to these types of trespassers is to not willfully trap or harm the intruder (ie. booby traps). This means that if a person is undiscovered and sustains an injury on private property, they will likely be entitled to no compensation.

A ‘discovered trespasser’ is one that the owner of the property knows about. Even if a trespasser is on a person’s land illegally, the owner still has certain duties to that person. If the possessor of the land in question knows that there are specific dangers on their property that trespassers are not likely to discover until it is too late, then the owner has a duty to provide warning of these dangers. This can be done by simply posting a sign warning of the hazard.

An accident lawyer NY law firm would also probably be better able to secure damages for a trespasser if the owner of the property created the dangerous condition. Creating a dangerous condition that trespassers are not likely to see which can cause serious bodily harm or death usually makes a person liable for injuries sustained by people on their property. This is especially true if there was no warning posted about the condition.

Trespassing rarely turns out positively for the intruder. Both civil and criminal penalties can be assessed against them and they can even be injured without recompense. While it is still possible for an attorney to get compensation for a trespasser, it is far more difficult than most personal injury cases. Trespassing can end in the aforementioned penalties and the possibility of high hospital bills that will not be covered by the property owner’s insurance, so it is generally a good idea to not cross this line.

Anthony Joseph is a freelance writer and researcher, and a contributing writer for Accident Lawyer NY. With the help of this website, you can locate the right New York accident lawyer to help you file your claim, as well as lots of information about various kinds of accidents which might qualify for a claim.

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