Is a Homeowner Responsible If a Trespasser Is Injured on Their Property in Kentucky?
As a homeowner, the safety of your family and invited guests is one of your primary concerns. You may have invited guests into your home on a regular basis – family gatherings, parties, community meetings. But, unfortunately, you may also have uninvited guests from time to time. These uninvited guests, also called trespassers, may get injured while on your property. You may think that you are not responsible if this occurs, but there are instances when this injury may become something you are legally responsible for in Kentucky.
Obligation of a Homeowner
Generally, the only legal obligation that a homeowner has is to not intentionally injure the trespasser. So usually, you will not be liable for injuries that a trespasser sustains on your property or in your home. It is generally accepted that homeowners should not expect trespassers, so warning a trespasser of potential safety issues is not.
The legal term for illegally entering a building and remaining there, or for illegally entering property that has a trespassing warning notice posted, is called criminal trespass. There are three degrees of criminal trespass:
- Criminal trespass in the first degree – A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the first degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a dwelling. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a Class A misdemeanor.
- Criminal trespass in the second degree – A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the second degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in a building or upon premises as to which notice against trespass is given by fencing or other enclosure. Criminal trespass in the first degree is a Class B misdemeanor.
- A person is guilty of criminal trespass in the third degree when he knowingly enters or remains unlawfully in or upon premises. Criminal trespass in the third degree is a violation.
As you can imagine, there are exceptions to this general rule. The first exception involves discovered trespassers. If you start to expect trespassers and start to see them on a regular basis, then you as the homeowner need to anticipate whatever potentially dangerous situations are on your property could become hazardous to trespassers.
- You have dogs that guard your home;
- Your property is adjacent to a park;
- People cut across your property to get to get to the park;
- You would most likely need to post warning signs stating that trespassing on your property can be dangerous.
If you post warning signs about your dogs and if you take reasonable precautions to keep your dogs from attacking trespassers, then you will not be liable.
The legal term for recklessly and knowingly engaging in behavior that will most likely cause injury is willful and wanton conduct. Yet another example of willful and wanton conduct is using a booby trap at your home that can harm or kill trespassers. With willful and wanton conduct, you would be held liable for the injuries or deaths of trespassers that come onto your property.
The Most Common Types of Trespassing
Probably the most common type of trespassing that comes to mind is in the event of a home invasion or burglary. At that point, if you are facing an armed burglar, then you have the right to defend yourself with deadly force if you feel your life is in danger.
Another exception involves children. Liability may become an issue if the property of a homeowner is maintained in such a hazardous condition that it can cause injury to a child who is trespassing.
Contact an Experienced Kentucky Personal Injury Firm
If a trespasser has been injured on your property or at your home, you may need the assistance of an experienced Kentucky personal injury attorney to understand your legal rights. These can be complicated issues and you will need the legal skills of an attorney like Lanna Martin Kilgore to make sure your rights are protected. You will want to speak with a lawyer who has experience in handling these types of cases. Lanna Kilgore Martin, Attorney at Law is a highly experienced lawyer who specializes in personal injury law and can help you with your situation. Contact us today to schedule a consultation at (270) 846-3700.