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Being Injured While Trespassing Can Create Difficulties in Your Case


If you are injured on a businesses’ property, and it is because the business owner was negligent, it may seem like a clear cut win for you as the victim. However, there is a question that must be asked before even getting to whether the property owner was negligent: Were you even supposed to be on the property where you were injured?

Were You Trespassing?

Certainly, if you are injured going into an open store to shop, or going to a friend’s house, this may not even be a question that needs asking. But there are situations where people are injured when they “accidentally” are somewhere they are not supposed to be. In some cases, you could be considered a trespasser.

You can easily transform from an invited guest to a trespasser. If you are in a grocery store, you are certainly invited there to shop. However, if you roam into a back room stocking warehouse, even by accident, you may become a trespasser. If you go to your child’s school play, you are welcome at the school. If you wander into the closed cafeteria area and fall while trying to find a bathroom, you may be a trespasser. If you visit a sick relative in a hospital, you are certainly invited. If you then wander into a staff lounge trying to get a drink for yourself, you may transform into a trespasser.

Many cases will hinge on jury questions of whether guests could reasonably be anticipated to roam into areas they were not allowed to go into. If a stock room door is left wide open, and a store has a custom of letting customers walk in to ask staff questions, it may be anticipated that customers will go into a stockroom, and thus, they won’t be considered trespassing.

Known Trespassers and Legal Obligations Owed to Them

When a business can anticipate that people will go somewhere they shouldn’t (or the business has previously observed people in areas they shouldn’t be in), or where trespassing is foreseeable, the victims may be “known trespassers.” A jury will decide whether a business could reasonably foresee, or had advanced knowledge, that people were going into areas they were not allowed to be.

If you are injured, and are considered a pure trespasser, Florida only requires that businesses do not intentionally harm you. They cannot be liable for negligence that injured you.

However, if you are a “known trespasser,” Florida law requires that a business warn of known and concealed dangers. This is not a high burden, but it is better than being a pure trespasser.

This definition requires that the business owner (1) only has to warn, but does not have to repair, or make safe, the area where you have been injured, and (2) only has to do so with dangers that would be hidden to the naked eye, or unobservable.

Contact the Miami personal injury attorneys at Jacobs Legal today if you are injured in an accident. We hold businesses responsible for injuries that they cause to customers and consumers.


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