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Even Trespassers Have a Right to Safety

Posted by attorney Christopher Zachar

However, does a trespasser have a right to bring a claim? In other words, when you are improperly or without permission on the property of another, and you are injured, do you have any legal right to state a claim for your injuries?

Every year, Arizonans are injured on private property as a result of slip/trip and fall accidents. If you've been the victim of a slip/trip and fall accident, and you believe that the owner or a third party is in some way responsible for the injury you suffered, it's critical to secure assistance from an specialized slip and fall lawyer. In our state it is especially important to seek out a slip and fall lawyer that is knowledgeable in current Arizona law, because the laws regarding property owners and slip and fall accidents is complex.

In Arizona, property owners may be held responsible for injuries resulting from a slip and fall accident on their property, even if the person is trespassing. There are three general categories to describe how individuals enter another’s property. These categories consist of 1) invitees, 2) licensees, and 3) trespassers.

“Invitees" are individuals who are asked to come to a given property. This is usually for business and commerce purposes. An example of a slip and fall accident involving invitees would be customers at a store who are injured while shopping at the store. You have been “invited" by the business to come to the store to shop, purchase and provide financial support. For these reasons, invitees are provided with the highest level of protection under Arizona law. If the individual is classified as an invitee, the landowner must use reasonable and ordinary care to keep the property reasonably safe including a duty to warn the invitee of non-obvious dangerous conditions known to the landowner, to use ordinary care in active operations on the land, and to make reasonable inspections to discover dangerous conditions and make them safe.

The second category, “licensees," are social visitors to properties. Under the eyes of the law, these people are essentially granted a “license" to enter, for a specific duration of time. These can include such people as friends invited over to a home, or, handymen who come in a do a repair. A specific purpose, for a specific duration, to accomplish a purpose---social or business. The protections provided for licensees are less than invitees. If the individual is classified as a licensee, the owner has a duty to warn a licensee of a dangerous condition that creates an unreasonable risk of harm if it is known to the owner or occupier and not likely to be discovered.

Finally, “trespassers" are unauthorized visitors who come onto the property without permission. While trespassers have some protections, they are typically specific and minimal. While many property owners may feel that they owe no duty to individuals trespassing on their land, Arizona law does require some degree of duty. In Arizona, if a landowner discovers a trespasser on his or her land, there is a duty to exercise ordinary care to warn the trespasser of, or make safe, artificial conditions that the landowner knows involve a risk of death or serious bodily harm and that the trespasser is not likely to discover. An owner also has a duty to exercise reasonable care when performing active operations on the land. Additionally, landowners usually owe a higher duty of care to trespassing children due to the propensity of children to run about, climb and play on others property.

The legal standards of responsibility of property owners, for an Arizona slip and fall case, depends on the classification of the individual entering the property. In sum, Arizona law does, to some degree, protect trespassers. However, courts and jurors are usually unsympathetic to trespassers. If you or a loved one has been involved in a slip and fall accident on another private property, even if trespassing, you should contact an experienced Arizona slip and fall lawyer.

An experienced Arizona slip a fall lawyer will know the best course of action to take in your case, to determine whether you are entitled to bring or maintain a legal claim for your injuries and damages.

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