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Can a trespasser sue for personal injury on my property?

On Behalf of | Oct 27, 2020 | Premises Liability

When someone suffers an injury on your property in Connecticut, you may be liable for a personal injury claim under premises liability law. However, liability depends on a few factors — primarily upon the right of the person to be on your property.

Connecticut law distinguishes between trespassers, invitees and licensees, asserting that you owe a duty of care to invitees and licensees, but not to trespassers except in a few cases.

What is a trespasser?

Under state law, trespassing offenses range from infractions to class A misdemeanors. Simple trespass, an infraction, consists of knowingly entering premises without the right to be present. Trespass becomes a crime when the person does so with the intent to hunt, fish or trap on the property, or if the property has clear and obvious posting prohibiting trespassing. Trespassing at this level is third-degree criminal trespass and a class C misdemeanor under Connecticut law.

Unlawfully entering a building or structure is second-degree criminal trespass. This is a class B misdemeanor. The most serious trespassing offense is first-degree criminal trespass, a class A misdemeanor. This consists of trespassing in violation of a restraining order or after receiving express orders to leave from the property owner or representative.

Criminal trespassers are subject to prosecution under the law, and the more severe the trespass, the less likely a court may be to hold you liable for their injury.

What duty of care do I owe a trespasser?

Connecticut law generally does not hold property owners liable for the injuries of trespassers as their presence is theoretically not anticipated. You do not owe a duty of care to the trespasser to keep the premises safe or to warn him or her of dangerous conditions.

However, this only applies to adult trespassers, and the doctrine of attractive nuisance is an important exception to this rule. Property owners may owe a duty of care to children who enter their property.

Additionally, these liability protections only apply as long as the intruder’s presence remains unknown to the owner. Once you discover a trespasser, you owe a duty of care under state law to take reasonable measures to prevent injury, and you may not intentionally harm or leave traps for the trespasser.

These laws coexist with laws allowing physical force against trespassers in some circumstances, such as when there is a threat of physical harm or destruction of property.

It is generally a good idea to clearly and explicitly ask trespassers to leave if you discover them, but try to prevent them from suffering an injury while they are there. It is a better idea in most cases to pursue recourse through law enforcement or the courts whenever possible rather than taking things into your own hands.


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Verdicts & Settlements

36-year-old laborer for landscaping company fractured wrist when fellow employee hit him with truck. Claimant received in excess of $30,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for total disability and medical expenses and settled with automobile insurance company for fellow employee for $95,000.

1989 workers’ compensation claim settled for $125,000. Claimant originally sustained a low back injury when she slipped and fell at local grocery store resulting in low back surgery in 1989. Several years later, claimant exacerbated her low back injury. Claim was reopened and settled with carrier for $125,000 in 2006.

47-year-old deli clerk sustained low back injuries at work for local supermarket. Carrier originally denied claim on the grounds that the injury was pre-existing. After formal workers’ compensation hearing carrier accepted claim and paid all total disability benefits and medical expenses in excess of $100,000. Case then settled for an additional $100,000 after injured person received a permanent disability rating.

34-year-old male roofer sustained multiple injuries to his shoulder, neck, back and hip when he fell from roof during work. Claimant was provided workers’ compensation benefits in excess of $100,000 and settled remaining claims for an additional $55,000.

40-year-old male working for cleaning company sustained neck and low back injuries when he fell on defective staircase while cleaning local museum. Claimant recovered over $95,000 in workers’ compensation benefits and resolved claim against museum for $85,000.

26-year-old laborer sustained fractured foot when a cast iron pipe was dropped on his foot. Employer and workers’ compensation carrier denied claim on basis that injured worker was an independent contractor. After a series of informal and formal workers’ compensation hearings, carrier conceded that claimant was an employee and settled case for $85,000.

24-year-old waitress sustained back injury while working at Outback Steak House. Workers’ compensation insurance company initially denied the claim. After a series of informal hearings, carrier accepted claim paying medical expenses and total disability benefits. In addition to those benefits paid, claim settled for an additional $75,000.

Delivery truck driver sustained right wrist fracture in rear-end motor vehicle accident while in the course of his employment. Claimant recovered in excess of $40,000 in workers’ compensation benefits for medical expenses and total disability benefits. Claimant settled case against at-fault driver for $105,000.

22-year-old male working as stocking clerk at “big box” retailer sustained herniated disc in low back. Workers’ compensation carrier refused to accept the claim. After formal workers’ compensation, hearing commissioner ordered carrier to pay over $35,000 in past total disability benefits and pay for surgery and all related medical expenses. Case settled for an additional $35,000 for a total recovery in excess of $100,000.

Rear-end collision on entrance ramp to Merritt Parkway resulting in 49-year-old woman sustaining mid-back injury. Case settled at mediation after filing suit for $300,000.

28-year-old passenger sustained multiple herniated discs in automobile accident in New York state. New York no-fault carrier paid for extended period of disability from work and medical expenses, including expenses for surgery. Case settled against driver of vehicle for $300,000 policy limits shortly after filing suit.

54-year-old man sustains shoulder injury when hit from behind by uninsured motorist on New Jersey Turnpike. Case settled for $135,000 prior to trial.

CT Transit bus driver sustained torn meniscus in collision with another vehicle. Claims made against at-fault driver, workers’ compensation carrier and client’s underinsured motorist policy. All claims settle for a recovery in excess of $100,000.

68-year-old woman sustained neck and back injuries in rear-end collision and required extended course physical therapy, but was not a surgical candidate. Case settled for $100,000 prior to filing suit.

34-year-old woman sustained concussion and neck and back injuries in hit-and-run accident on a New York highway. Claimant settled uninsured motorist claim for her $100,000 policy limits.

80-year-old woman sustained right foot fracture when her foot was run over in a parking lot. Case settled for at-fault driver’s policy limit of $100,000 prior to filing suit.

38-year-old nanny sustained right femur fracture when she fell down defective stairs in home of her employer’s neighbor. All medical expenses and lost wages reimbursed and case settled for an additional $150,000.

Claim against landlord for defective staircase in multi-family rental house. Claimant sustained a right femur fracture. Case settled for $125,000 prior to filing suit.

$95,000 judgment obtained against bar and nightclub for assault by one of its patrons against another patron.

47-year-old woman sustained a broken left wrist when she fell from porch stairs at house she was renting. Case settled for $95,000 shortly before trial.

26-year-old male bitten on leg by German shepherd. Claim against dog owner settled for $65,000 plus payment of all medical expenses.