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Property trespassing

Under real estate law, trespassing means going onto someone else's property without permission. It may lead to criminal charges depending on the circumstances.

Linda Lucille Schwichtenberg | Nov 7, 2018

No, You May Not Defend Your Property with Booby Traps

But there was a No Trespassing sign What*s worse than a criminal stealing your things? That same criminal suing you in a personal injury lawsuit, too. What if there is a sign warning people to trespass at their own risk * do they still have a lawsuit if they were warned? Yes. For example, North Carolina Man Edwin Smith was shot with his own shotgun booby trap, and then told 911 *the squirrels did me in.* (To be fair, he was trying to feed the squirrels at the time his trap went off. If they hadn*t been hungry, none of this would have happened.) Mr. Smith was serious about defending his property; he constructed a large sign that warned *crackheads, drug dealers and illegal aliens* not to trespass. The sign wouldn*t have made any difference in a trespasser*s ability to seek compensation for injuries. Why can a trespasser sue me? If Mr. Smith*s trap had fired on a trespasser, and injury or wrongful death had resulted, then Federal and State laws would have not been on his side. In such a Denver case, Mr. Connaghan took the law into his own hands with a booby trap after becoming frustrated with the lack of police response to multiple break-ins. The community was more than sympathetic because Mr. Connaghan*s trap killed a violent skinhead who had stolen from him multiple times * but Mr. Connaghan ultimately paid nearly $10,000 in fines, spent six years in probation and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. He said he was deeply sorry for what had happened and he regretted the trap, which had been the wrong solution to the problem. Even in Florida*s Stand Your Ground law, there is no provision for being able to use deadly force (or a booby trap delivering deadly force) to protect property. A person may be justified in using deadly force if either they believe such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself, or another; to prevent a forcible felony; or such force is used from within their dwelling, residence or vehicle. Even if it seems wrong that your intruder could sue you for bodily harm caused by a spring gun or booby trap on the other end of their choices, they can. In 1971*s Katko v. Briney, the intruder Katko prevailed against Briney after Briney*s spring gun set-up left him with severe shotgun wounds. The Supreme Court ruled that using deadly force on unoccupied property was neither reasonable or justified, and the plaintiff*s status as a trespasser was irrelevant when assessing liability. Simply put, the law puts a higher value on human safety than property. Other good reasons to not use booby traps Also consider that booby traps are a hazard for fire and police, children, trick-or-treaters, and those seeking emergency shelter*not to mention owners who forget to deactivate their own traps.

Jeffrey Ira Zimmerman | May 3, 2015

Bringing A Successful Premises Case In Pennsylvania

Introduction Cases involving falls from trips or slips on property, known as "premises cases", are much more complex than many other legal matters, giving rise to verdicts for defendants or cases dismissed before trial in more than 85% of all cases in the greater Philadelphia court systems. The claimant's attorney must have a sophisticated understanding of both the law and the science behind fall downs. Legal status of entry onto the property determines the duty owed by the property owner The best way to illustrate this aspect of Pennsylvania law is to provide an example. Joe goes to the local Burger Joint. In the first scenario, he slips on a wet floor in the dining area while walking up to the counter to order his meal. In the second scenario, he slips on water on the restroom floor. In the third scenario, he walks into the kitchen to see how they prepare the special sauce, and slips on water on the floor of the kitchen. In each scenario, the owner has a different duty of care, despite the dangerous condition being identical in all three. The highest duty is to Joe, the "business invitee", while in front of the counter. The second highest is to Joe, the "licensee", while in the restroom. The lowest, is to Joe, the "trespasser", in the kitchen. In each case, Joe's attorney needs to present facts sufficient to prove a failure of Burger Joint's owner to meet his legal duty imposed upon him for that status of entrant. Ice and Snow Cases Pennsylvania requires a showing of "hills and ridges" for generalized icy conditions to permit a recovery. "Black ice", ongoing precipitation or general icy conditions do not permit a recovery. The exception to this rule is where an artificial condition exists, such as a drainage or pooling condition that contributes to the formation of ice, run-off from snow piles, poor or insufficient snow removal or application of ice melt material. These cases require the successful attorney to obtain, interpret and present climatological data, ground conditions, topography, drainage and run-off, pooling, snow removal standards, ice melt properties and other key evidence overcome this difficult legal standard. Bad sidewalks; holes and depressions in the ground surface; slippery floors; water, grease or other material on a floor An understanding of the co-efficiency of friction, gait analysis, floor surfaces, stairway design and construction, condensation, water accumulation and discharge, visibility, sight lines and many other factors in order to prevail on cases involving slippery floors, broken sidewalks or asphalt, and dangerous stairways, decks and walkways. Knowledge of the development of potholes, street surface construction, filling and sealing of excavations, is required to properly present road defect cases. Only an attorney having a good grasp of the issues and a more in-depth knowledge of the science and mechanics of these conditions can successfully present and win cases of this type. Municipal cases: These cases involve operation of governmental vehicles, dangerous conditions of public property, buildings, streets and utilities, and many other areas. These cases are different from general liability cases and require a knowledge of the "ins and outs" of governmental immunity. A governmental entity can only be sued for damages in limited factual circumstances and then within caps on damages. Cases brought against a city, township, borough, county, state or Federal government have unique notice requirements, time limitations, hurdles and rules of proceeding. There is a veritable maze of legal requirements to bringing claims against local governmental entities. Missing the initial notice period or failing to meet the statutory requirements of such notices can result in the dismissal of the claim.

Wallace M. Berry Jr. | Dec 16, 2014

I fell on someone's property and got hurt! What do I do now?

WHAT IS A "SLIP AND FALL" CLAIM? When you are injured on someone else's property due to a dangerous condition, such as water, ice or other dangerous condition, you may have a claim against the property owner. Some of the questions your attorney will need to address are: was this an obvious hazard or hidden, permanent or temporary, how long had it been there, and did the owner know or should he have known about the hazard? WHAT DOES THE LAW SAY? When a person (or entity) is negligent and causes an injury to someone, there are two main elements to a claim: 1) The property owner had actual knowledge of the dangerous condition or should have reasonably known through due care that it did exist, and 2) The victim who was injured was not aware of the dangerous condition. WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW? Seek immediate treatment for your injuries. If possible, have someone take photographs (dated) or video of the scene and of any obvious injuries. If you know what caused your fall, have photos taken of that (spilled water, crushed fruit, etc.). Obtain any witness contact information. Even people who arrived in the area after you fell may become necessary witnesses. Keep the shoes you were wearing at the time, as they may be important evidence. If the fall occurred in a store or business, report it to the manager on duty, ask them to write a report, and then obtain a copy of that report. Do not sign any statements or agree to make any recorded statements regarding the incident. Be very careful about anything you might say and never admit any fault for your fall or take any responsibility for it. If an insurance claims adjuster calls you later for a statement, ensure that y our lawyer is present. The adjuster is not on your side, and may try to minimize your injuries, get you to admit fault, or talk you into signing a release before the true value of your injuries and claim can be properly determined. DO I HAVE A VALID CLAIM? Answer these questions to help determine if you may have a valid claim, but you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible: Was I injured enough to have to seek medical treatment? Will my injury impact my ability to earn a living and, if so, for how long? Will I need assistance to perform my daily tasks outside of work? Was I completely responsible for my fall and injuries, or was the surface I was walking on slippery or dangerous in some other way? These cases are very fact specific and may also hinge on what your actions were, what shoes you were wearing, whether the hazard was open and obvious, and other factors. HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO PURSUE A CLAIM? Generally, there is a two-year SOL (statute of limitations), but in some cases, where the landowner is a city or county, you are required to give them notice of your claim within 180 days, so time is of the essence. It is very important that you get your lawyer involved in your case as soon as possible. HOW DO WE PROVE MY CLAIM? To prove your claim, your lawyer may gather and provide evidence that the dangerous condition existed for a long period of time and that it should have been discovered by the property owner if they had exercised reasonable care by inspecting the premises. In some cases, you may have to hire an expert witness who can evaluate the dangerous condition and later testify to their findings based upon their technical training, education and experience. DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY? Slip and fall cases can be complicated and difficult to win in court. You need an experienced lawyer who knows the law, can guide you through the entire process and ensure your case is presented in the strongest manner. Your lawyer will gather evidence and assess your injuries and any necessary medical treatment. Your attorney will evaluate your claim, negotiate with the landowner or their insurance company, and locate an expert witness if one is needed. Your lawyer will take care of your case at each stage in the process. Your case may settle without the need to file a lawsuit. However, if you are forced to file a lawsuit, the case may still settle later or, in a few cases, the case may actually proceed to trial. CONCLUSION If you have been injured on someone's property, you should contact me today to discuss your potential claim during a free consultation. Don't go unrepresented and don't go it alone. Wallace M. Berry Attorney at Law BERRY LAW LLC 600 South Perry Street Lawrenceville, GA 30046 678-442-1126 404-955-8253 [email protected]

Jonathan Nicholas Francis | Nov 12, 2014

Virginia Unlawful Detainers - Types of Judgments for Possession and the Eviction Process

Types of Possession There are three types of judgment for possession that a Court can grant: A) immediate; B) possession at a certain date agreed upon by the Landlord and Tenants; and C) 10 day possession. A) Immediate Possession is only granted when there is a default, meaning that the tenant did not appear in court at any time. Immediate Possession allows a Landlord to file a Writ of Possession with the Clerk's Office immediately, and allows the Clerk's Office to process the Writ of Possession immediately, although this process generally takes about three days. B) Possession can be granted at a certain date that is agreed upon by the Landlord and Tenants. This only occurs if there is an agreement between the parties that allows for a granting of possession and provides a particular date when the Tenants are supposed to vacate and turn over possession to the Landlord. This agreement can and should be memorialized in an Agreed Order, which should be filed with the Court. Depending upon the Court, the judge may only want the details from the Agreed Order instead of having the Agreed Order entered into the file. A possession award on a certain date means that the Writ of Possession will not be processed by the Clerk's office until that agreed upon date. C) 10 day possession is the awarded in all situations other than when there is a default or an agreement between the parties. 10 day possession is granted when Tenants appear at the first return, but do not contest the Landlord's right to possession, and is also granted if the Court enters a judgment in Landlord's favor at a trial. 10 day possession means that the Writ of Possession will not be processed by the Clerk's office until at least 10 days have passed since the judgment was entered. Sheriff's Office Time Frames and Scheduling the Eviction After the Clerk's Office has processed the Writ of Possession, the Writ is sent to the Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office then needs to process the Writ of Possession. This involves entering information into their system and geographically dividing up the Writs of Possession to give to particular officers. How quickly a Writ of Possession is processed depends largely on how busy the Sheriff's Office is. Although it generally takes only a few days, it could be weeks. Virginia Code ? 8.01-470 ( instructs the Sheriff's office to execute the Writ of Possession "within 15 calendar days from the date the writ of possession is received by the sheriff, or as soon as practicable thereafter, but in no event later than 30 days from the date the writ of possession is issued." Once the Writ of Possession has been assigned to a particular officer, that officer will use the contact information on the Writ of Possession to schedule the eviction. The officer is required to post the Writ of Possession at the property, and provide a date and time that is at least 72 hours after the time of posting for the eviction to occur. See Va. Code ? 8.01-470 ( When the officer calls to schedule the eviction, the Landlord or Landlord's agent should be prepared with a date and time that is at least 72 hours from the phone call that you received. Be mindful that at the eviction, the Landlord will need to have someone there to change the locks, otherwise the officer may not conduct the eviction. A) The Eviction, B) Changing the Locks and C) Obligations Regarding Items Left at the Property A) Landlord, or Landlord's agent needs to be present during the eviction. The officer conducting the eviction may contact the Landlord prior to the scheduled eviction time to postpone the eviction until a later time that day if the officer has been delayed. During the eviction, the officer will enter the property, going from room to room to confirm that no occupants remain at the property. B) At this time, the locks must be changed, so that any prior tenants do not move back into the property. C) There are two types of evictions that can be conducted, although most Landlords have a 24 Hour Storage Eviction, instead of the Public Way Eviction. In the 24 Hour Storage Eviction, any personal property of the Tenants that has been left at the property can remain at the property for up to 24 hours. Landlord may choose to have all the personal property kept where it is, moved into a particular room or storage area, moved to a garage, or even moved to a storage facility owned by the Landlord. It will be the responsibility of the Landlord and/or Landlord's agents to move any of the personal property; it is not the responsibility of the officer or the Sheriff's office to move any of the personal property. During these 24 hours, the Tenants have the right to return to where the personal property is located during reasonable times and to remove the personal property. It is due to this right of the Tenants that the Landlord may prefer to move any personal property to a storage facility, storage area or a garage, so that the Tenants would not have access to the house or apartment. If Tenants remain in the property after the 24 hour period, the Tenants are trespassing. During this 24-hour period and until the Landlord disposes of the remaining personal property of the Tenants, the Landlord and the Sheriff shall not have any liability for the loss of such personal property. However, if the Landlord fails to allow reasonable access to the Tenants to remove their personal property, the Tenants shall have a right to injunctive relief and such other relief as may be provided by law. Any property remaining in the Landlord's storage area after the 24-hour period after eviction may be sold, disposed of, or destroyed by the Landlord. If Landlord sells the real property left behind by the Tenants, the proceeds of the sale must be applied to the account of the Tenants. These proceeds should be used to offset the reasonable costs incurred by the Landlord in the eviction process as well as the reasonable costs of storing and selling the real property. If any funds remain after offsetting these expenses, any remaining funds should be treated as a security deposit according to the terms of the Lease and the applicable law. See Va. Code 55-237.1 ( The other type of eviction is the Public Way Eviction. This generally is not chosen as it may require a lot more people present, take additional time, and could conflict with HOA or Condo Association rules. The Public Way Eviction requires all of Tenants' property to be placed on the nearest public right of way. Landlord will be responsible for providing enough people to move all of the property to the public right of way. The Sheriff will not assist in the removal of the property, although they must be present during the removal. The Sheriff may additionally require the Landlord to provide a moving truck, boxes, or other equipment deemed necessary for the removal of Tenants' personal property. Time will be of the essence, and the Sheriff's office must be contacted at the scheduling of the eviction so that they are aware what type of eviction is being conducted.

Timothy R. Miley | Oct 20, 2014

Public vs. Private Land Hunting Accidents

Liability for Private Land Hunting Accidents if Not Charged to Use the Land Generally, if a landowner opens the land for public recreational access, including to hunt on the land, then the landowner is not liable for injuries that occur on the land, as long as the landowner does not charge for use of the land. This encourages private landowners to open up access to these areas to the general public, helping free up public hunting grounds. A person who enters private land for recreational use and is not charged a fee for doing so is essentially a trespasser as far as West Virginia liability law is concerned. While the individual may not be breaking any laws, per premises liability law, the owner of the land does not owe a duty of care to the individual, just as he generally does not owe a duty of care to trespassers. The landowner should post No Trespassing notices every 500 feet if he does not wish others to use the land for recreational use. Liability for Private Land Hunting Accidents if Charged to Use the Land If the landowner charges hunters for use of the privately-owned land, though, then the landowner may be liable for injuries that result out of the landowner's failure to maintain a reasonably safe premises. So if you were in a private land hunting accident and became injured because of a hazard on the land, whether you can file a claim is largely dependent on whether you paid a fee to use the land. Proving Liability for a Private Land Hunting Accident if You Paid to Use the Land But just because you became injured while hunting on private land after having paid to use the land does not mean you are automatically entitled to recover damages. You must prove the landowner was in some way negligent, and it was this negligence that led to your injuries. For example, failure to warn of a known hazard might result in the landowner being liable for a resulting injury, whereas it otherwise would not if the landowner did not charge a fee to use the land. You may present photographs of the hazard with an absence of warning signs to demonstrate negligence and liability. Eyewitness accounts of your accident may also be important to establish liability. You must also present evidence of your damages. This might include medical bills to indicate the treatment you received, as well as evidence of your wages to indicate wages you lost while recovering. Liability for Public Land Hunting Accidents It may be difficult to hold the government responsible for hazards on public land as well. Government agencies generally enjoy exemption from liability in what's known as government immunity. Hunters may assume certain risks when entering undeveloped areas to hunt, and the government may not be liable for any injuries that result from hazards on the land.

Starling Bernard Underwood III | Aug 25, 2014

Residential Landlord Liability for a Dog Bite to a Third Person

Recent Case Law Stephens v. Covington (NO. COA13-431), is a recent case from the North Carolina Court of Appeals which arose out of New Hanover County. This case involves a minor child who was a visitor of the tenants renting the residential property under a lease with an option to purchase. The attack took place before the tenants purchased the property. The tenants were the owners of a Rottweiler named Rocky. The landlord knew the tenants owned the Rottweiler and was aware it was living at the property. The landlord asked the tenant to contact animal control to seek advice on how to erect a fence around a portion of the property to contain the dog. Upon recommendation of Animal Control and as a precaution, the tenants erected a fence in the backyard and posted "Beware of Dog" and "No Trespassing" signs along the fence. Plaintiff heavily relied on Holcomb v. Colonial Assocs., L.L.C., in which the North Carolina Supreme Court held, under the premises liability theory, that a landlord could be held liable in a dog attack if the lease contains a provision which grants the landlord sufficient control to remove the danger posed by a tenant's dogs. In Stephens v. Covington, the Court of Appeals expounded upon the meaning of sufficient control. The Court of Appeals found that a plaintiff must establish that (1) the landlord had knowledge that a tenant's dog posed a danger and (2) that the landlord had control over the dog's presence on the property. The Court of Appeals found there was no evidence to support that the landlord knew, or had reason to know, that the dog was dangerous and there was no evidence at trial suggesting that the particular breed of dog, Rottweiler, was inherently dangerous. The dog had no history of prior attacks and neither the landlord nor Animal Control was aware of any complaints about the dog. How to Shield Yourself From Liability If you, your company, or the owner of residential property allows pets, you need to have a pet policy either outlined in the lease agreement or attached as an addendum to the lease agreement in addition to a non-refundable pet deposit. The language of the policy needs to outline that the tenant is not aware of any instance of an attack and that the tenant will, within 24 hours of learning of an attack or other violent behavior, inform the landlord in writing of the dog's behavior. The goal is to minimize any potential liability as much as possible. As indicated by this case, there will be no liability if the landlord does not know or have reason to know. You may also want to consider using broad general language as to dangerous dogs rather than naming particular breeds of dogs. Also include language that this pet policy is an essential part of the lease and a breach of any obligation contained within the policy is an event of default.

Mark David Brynteson | Mar 26, 2013

Understanding Slip & Fall Cases

There are two key questions that must be answered in every slip and fall case in Illinois. These questions determine whether the plaintiff can prevail in his case and what proof must be offered. They are: • What made you fall? • How did that get there and how long was it there? Regarding the first question, in order to prevail in a slip-and-fall case, you must be able to prove that there was a hazardous condition on the property which caused his or her fall. Being able to answer the question of what caused the fall is crucial because if you cannot say what caused your fall, we cannot show that the defendant was negligent for either causing the hazardous condition or for failing to correct it. In cases where someone trips over his or her own feet or suddenly feels faint and falls, the defendant is not liable for their injuries just because the fall happened on his property. If the injured person or another witness cannot testify as to why the fall occurred, the defendant has no liability. There must be something about the property such a defect in the property or a foreign object or substance that caused your fall. Because this is one of the critical issues in every slip and fall suit, we look to sources of proof such as witnesses, police reports, paramedics records, or emergency room records to help establish what caused the you to fall. In one case I handled, my client slipped and fell in water on the floor of a hotel bar and fractured her hip. She neither saw the water or felt it while she was lying on the floor, but her husband saw it and felt it on the back of her winter coat as he helped her to a chair. The second crucial question, how did it get there and how long it was there, is important because the answer determines whether you have to prove that the defendant knew or reasonably should have known of the presence of the hazard. If the hazard that caused the fall was created by the activities or business operations of the defendant, then you do not have to prove that the property owner knew or reasonably should have known about the hazard. This affects the kind of proof that has to be shown in order to get a successful verdict or settlement. For example, I represented a marketing representative who passed out samples of food at a grocery store on the weekend. At the end of the day when she went into the back room to put on her coat, she slipped on dried spaghetti noodles and suffered a broken hip. Pre-trial discovery showed that the hazard got onto the floor when a stock room employee tried to throw the broken box of dried pasta into a shopping cart used for spoilage, but missed and the noodles spilled all over the floor. I did not have to show that the defendant had knowledge of the hazard because it was created by the defendant’s employees. On the other hand, in another case where we represented a woman who tripped and fell on a broken city sidewalk, I was able to establish through the testimony of residents of the block where the accident happened that the sidewalk had been in that condition for many years and that the city inspectors had inspected the sidewalk the year prior to the accident and designated the sidewalk for replacement, but the work had not been done. That was enough to show that the city knew or should have known of the defective sidewalk where the client fell. These two questions: what caused your fall and how did that hazard come to be are at the heart of every Illinois slip and fall case. As an experienced Illinois personal injury lawyer, I look closely at this issue in every premises liability case I handle during the pretrial investigation phase of the case to help ensure that my clients secure a successful verdict or settlement for their Illinois slip and fall case. Summary Unlike many other forms of Personal Injury cases, Slip and Fall claims can be somewhat tricky to execute. In fact, many Personal Injury Lawyers will actually not accept this type of case. Why is this you ask? Because there is simply more skepticism towards this type of claim. But if you have been injured in a Slip and Fall incident, then you know firsthand that it is indeed a serious matter, and that is why our excellent team of experienced lawyers take on Slip and Fall cases. If you have suffered from a Slip and Fall incident and would like to know more, please keep reading. In a Slip and Fall claim, getting injured on a person's property alone is not enough to make a case. To have an effective claim you must be able to prove that your injury was caused by a defective or dangerous condition on the property. There are also other things to consider, such as the legal status of the injured person, negligence and the notice of the condition. Another thing to take in mind is whether or not an incident report was filed. If your accident occurred in a business or retail store, it is important to notify the manager to write a report. If you do not have a report then it may make it harder to prove your case. As stated before, the legal status of the injured person, negligence and the notice of the condition must be taken into consideration. Many times you must prove notice, which means that the defendant knew or should have known about the condition that caused your injuries. Notice also goes hand in hand with proving negligence. For instance, if another customer caused your injury in a store, or if you spilled something yourself, the store is not at fault. Some cases are obvious and do not need notice, such as if the store were to mop a floor without putting a safety sign up, or if they improperly stacked together merchandise in an unstable way and it fell on you. Next you must consider your Legal Status. In Slip and Fall cases, there are three types of Legal Status: Business Invitee, Trespasser, and Licensee. A Business Invitee is anyone who enters a property that is connected with a business. If you are inside a retail store, then you are a Business Invitee. A Licensee is a person who is on another person's property, but not for business reasons. For instance, if you are at a friend of relative's house then you are a Licensee. In both of the above mentioned types of Legal Status, the property owners are responsible for making their property safe, and if you are harmed by their negligence you may have a case. However there is once for of Legal Status under which the property owner is not responsible for your safety: the Trespasser status. A Trespasser is a person who is on a person's property without permission. If you are harmed by property while trespassing, you will most likely not have a case.