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Trespassers and Premises Liability FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Missouri Trespasser Lawsuits

Q: Who is considered a trespasser?

A: A trespasser is someone who enters a property without the permission of the possessor. A trespasser does not need to know that he or she is on private property or be on the private property for a malicious purpose.

Q: What duty of care is owed to a trespasser?

A: A trespasser is generally owed no duty with regard to the condition of the property. There are cases, however, when a trespasser can bring a premises liability lawsuit against a property possessor.

Q: Under what circumstances can a property owner or possessor be liable to a trespasser?

A: Some Missouri courts have allowed trespassers to sue property owners under limited circumstances, including:

  • Dangerous artificial conditions maintained close to neighboring properties that create an unreasonable risk of harm to people who are lawfully on the neighboring properties
  • Hidden dangers that are intentionally placed to injure trespassers and would likely cause death or serious bodily harm
  • The use of willful, illegal force against a trespasser in some circumstances, especially when the private land abuts public land
  • Dangerous conditions maintained near a public right of way

Q: What are the elements of a premises liability lawsuit brought by a trespasser?

A: A trespasser must establish four things to hold a property owner liable for his or her injuries:

  1. A dangerous condition existed on the property.
  2. The possessor of the property had actual knowledge of the condition.
  3. The possessor had actual knowledge of the presence of a trespasser or the applicability of some exception to the general rule that trespassers are not owed a duty of care.
  4. The trespasser was injured as a result.

Q: Are children considered trespassers?

A: One of the most common exceptions to the rule regarding trespassers is called the "attractive nuisance doctrine." This legal rule establishes liability for property possessors who knew or should have known that children were likely to trespass on property.

More On Premises Liability:

Frequently Asked Questions About Premises Liability
Trespassers and Premises Liability FAQ
Keeping the Premises Safe
Toxic Substances on the Property
Criminal Acts by Third Parties
Liability of Tenants & Landlords
Liabilities of Contractors and Construction Companies

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