Injured Trespasser: Am I Liable? | Diamond & Diamond
  • Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Trespasser Injured on My Property: Am I Liable?

Finding a trespasser on your property can evoke a sense of panic and fear. However, there’s a specific manner in which you should handle this matter.

Your first instinct might be to harm the individual or exercise some force to remove them. Sometimes, these invaders might not even know they’re breaking any laws. 

But what happens if the trespasser is injured? Is your behavior lawful, and would you be liable for their injuries? Let’s have a closer look at what the law says about premises liability and what property owners should do.

Trespassing in Canada and Premises Liability

There are three contributing factors to the law regarding trespassing. These factors are tort law, provincial legislation, and criminal law. 

Tort Law

Trespassing occurs when an unauthorized person is on private property belonging to another. It also includes a person remaining on your premises after you withdrew permission. This crime is known as “trespass to land” and is one of the oldest torts in the common law.

With “trespass to land,” the trespasser can be sued and held liable for their actions, including punitive damages if their intent was malicious.

If it’s daylight and the property has a precise path with no signage forbidding trespassers, a visitor may not be regarded as an intruder. This implies that permission has been granted to enter the property. However, you may revoke this consent at any time and ask the visitor to leave or charge them with trespassing.

Provincial Regulation

Trespassing isn’t only unlawful if someone enters private property. It also includes people carrying out illegal activities on the premises and refusing to leave when instructed to do so.

Reverse onus provision is present in some provinces, including Ontario. In this case, a person is regarded as a trespasser if found in one of the following locations:

  • In a private garden
  • In a field or land being cultivated
  • On grounds that are fenced for cultivation or to enclose animals
  • On lands that have relevant signage posted 

Intruding on a privately-owned natural area isn’t regarded as trespassing unless it’s posted as prohibited. This is to support the encouragement of recreational activity held on private properties.

If an offender is believed to have a valid reason to be on the premises, they may not be charged with trespassing. Unless there’s a notice that forbids trespassing, it’s implied that permission is given to approach a building’s entrance.

Criminal Law

If trespassing occurs between 9 pm and 6 am, the trespasser can’t use the implied permission as a defense. According to the Criminal Code, loitering or prowling at night on someone’s property near a house is offensive. 

Loitering is defined as wandering about without a final destination. To prowl is to move around secretly and covertly.

There’s no need for a prosecutor to prove the intention of the accused; only the act of prowling needs to be established. 

Premises Liability: Legal Obligations of Property Owners/Occupiers

Premises Liability Legal Obligations of Property Owners Occupiers

The term “Premises Liability” describes a situation where someone was injured due to a property being unsafe or in a shoddy condition.

Whether it’s the property owner, a tenant, or someone entrusted with it, the person responsible for the premises is accountable for any activities that occur on it. The following are examples of these properties:

  • Stores and restaurants
  • Amusement parks
  • Healthcare and retirement facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Municipal and government roads, buildings, and sidewalks
  • Schools
  • Private homes, cottages, backyard pools, and ponds 
  • Parking lots
  • Boats and travel trailers
  • Hotels
  • Factories and offices
  • Apartments

Those responsible for the maintenance of properties must also ensure the premises’ safety and the safety of those who live there or visit them. Any injuries that occur due to hazards that tenants are responsible for or control are ultimately their responsibility.

Anyone visiting the property should be made aware of any potential safety hazards in an acceptable and explicit manner. An example of a premises liability case that resulted in an injury is a “slip and fall” incident. For the owner, employee, or tenant to be held liable for someone else’s injuries, they would have to be responsible for the cause of the problem resulting in the person’s slip and fall.

To ensure that your home is safe from premises liability, the following needs to be done:

  • Keep walkways clear from any potential hazards 
  • Install adequate lighting both inside and outside
  • Ensure that there is a landing between a doorway and a staircase that descends into a basement
  • Ensure that a pool or the chemicals aren’t easily accessible, especially by children

When is an Owner Not Liable?

There are times when an owner’s responsible for accidents that occur on the property, and there are times when they’re not. 

The owner might not be liable in the following instances:

  • The owner didn’t act recklessly by disregarding the visitors’ safety or by allowing them to be harmed.  
  • The injured party intended to commit a crime; for example, by trespassing on the property, they’re assuming any risks that they may face.
  • Visitors to a recreational property with no fee are also regarded to have assumed any risks — these properties include golf courses closed for the season, private roads, forests, and trails.
  • When a contractor, who the occupier regards as competent, is negligent, resulting in an injury

However, the property holder still must ensure that the premises are free from any potential hazards no matter what.

If you find yourself dealing with a trespasser who got injured on your property, ease your worries and let Diamond and Diamond Law handle your case.  Contact us at 1-800-567-HURT for a free case evaluation.

How to Deal with Injuries Caused by Third Parties

There are situations when a third party may be responsible for a trespasser’s injuries. If a property owner has contractors working on the premises and they leave a safety hazard without any warning signs, they could be liable for any damages or injuries.

This situation can also be regarded as a potential joint liability if the landowner neglected to take suitable precautions to avoid a foreseeable risk. If this is the case, then both parties might be liable for any damages. Premises liability coverage will help you settle such a claim.

Still Unsure if You’re Liable?

It isn’t easy to deal with a premises liability case. You would need an experienced lawyer who can assist you. Contact Diamond and Diamond, a premises liability lawyer, today!

PRO Tip

“If you spot a trespasser in your property and you’re unsure of their motive, contact the nearest police station immediately.”

FAQs for Trespasser Injured on My Property: Am I Liable?

Can I be held liable if a person drowns in my swimming pool?

Yes, you can be held liable if somebody drowns in your swimming pool and that person is a child and you didn’t take reasonable care to ensure their safety.

Can I pursue a claim if I have been bitten by my friend’s dog?

Yes, you can file a claim if your friend’s dog bit you. According to the Dog Owner’s Liability Act, anyone in possession of the dog could be held liable for the injuries.

Can premises liability apply to instances of wrongful death?

Yes, it can apply to wrongful death cases if the defendant acted negligently and their actions resulted in the victim’s death.

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