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Can Someone Sue if They Get Hurt on Your Property?

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

In Georgia, it is very rare for someone who is trespassing to successfully sue a property owner and recover damages.

It’s rare, but not unheard of.

If a trespasser sustains injuries on your property, the property owner, in general, will not be held liable. Unless:

  1. The property owner acted aggressively or violently toward the trespasser, which result in an injury.
  2. The property owner has the assumption or expectation that trespassers will enter their property and they are still exceptionally negligent. For example, if you are fully aware of a serious hazard on your property and don’t post any warnings or fix the issue, you may be found liable.

Chasing someone off your property is not enough to be held liable. Nor is employing a level of care a reasonable person would use. But you are not legally permitted to use deadly force on a trespasser unless they pose an imminent threat that will cause you bodily harm.

O.C.G.A. 16-7-21 created by the Georgia General Assembly addresses criminal trespass.

Is There Really a Need for a “No Trespassing” Sign?

Posting signage stating you do not want any trespassers is a good idea, especially if you have a significant amount of acreage or property that is more prone to trespassing violations. By posting a sign on an expanse of property, you may help individuals comprehend the actual boundaries of your property. The signs may also insulate you from potential liability if they are clearly posted.

In some circumstances, unlawfully stepping on someone’s property is only considered trespassing if there is written or verbal notice on the estate.

If you have not put up fencing and want to post a sign, consider placing it at the entrance of your property in addition to typical routes of travel throughout your property. The mere presence of a fence is legally considered a notification of private property. Some people choose to mark trees with paint to mark the lines of their property.

To supplement the warning signs to trespassers, consider putting up notifications about any hazards on your property so you can further protect yourself from any liability.

Steps to Take if Someone is Injured on Your Property

The moment you notice someone is trespassing on your property, report the situation to the local authorities in your area. If someone sustains an injury while trespassing, contact emergency services in addition to local authorities.

You don’t have any obligation to keep trespassers safe or attend to their injuries. However, you do have the responsibility of acting in a reasonable manner that is not vindictive or malicious.

If the trespasser has sustained an injury that is potentially life-threatening, do what you can to keep them alive until help arrives. Afterwards, you may speak with a lawyer about the possible risks of doing so, especially if your property did not have signage or was poorly marked.

If a trespasser sustains injuries while accidentally trespassing, the property owner may be liable. A claim of a small injury can grow to an imposing sum. As in any other state, the laws can be tricky and complicated. Don’t risk losing any of your assets. Contacting a personal injury lawyer in Atlanta is a great way to make sure your rights are protected especially if you have a hazardous feature on your property.