A trespasser is someone who enters a property without the permission of the property owner. It is illegal to trespass, but what happens if the trespasser suffers an injury while on the property?
According to the New Jersey Courts, the liability of a property owner depends upon several factors.
Age of the trespasser
The law looks differently upon trespassers who are adults versus those who are children. An adult is aware they are breaking the law. They understand the risks of going onto property without permission. A child cannot understand these things. For this reason, the law looks at an adult as more liable for his or her actions. In an adult trespasser situation, the property owner is not liable for accidental injuries but would be liable for intentionally hurting the person.
Because children are not as liable for their actions, it is the responsibility of the property owner to ensure a child cannot get onto his or her property if there is something that could harm them. The law says that if a property owner knows or has a reason to believe his or her property is attractive to children and that a fixture or situation on the property could be dangerous, then they are liable if a child gets into the property and suffers an injury. But the law also requires proving the liability of the property owner through five elements that show the property owner failed to prevent the accident through negligence and the child had no idea of the dangers of going onto the property.
Protecting trespassers is not always the duty of a property owner. But when the situation involves children, the owner could become liable.