Are Oregon Property Owners Liable To Trespassers?

In most cases, property owners have a duty to ensure the safety of those who are legally allowed to be on their premises. However, what happens if someone is injured well trespassing on another person’s property? Does the property owner have a duty to care for someone that is illegally on their premises?

Understanding premises liability law can be complicated, particularly when it comes to trespassers. Here, we want to discuss whether or not the property owner can be held liable for trespasser injuries.

What is premises liability?

Generally, property owners have a duty to maintain their premises to a certain standard. These laws are designed to protect people from unnecessary injury, and they apply to private as well as public properties. Premises liability laws are why you can generally expect safety when you go to places like the grocery store, public parks, banks, government buildings, and more.

These laws are designed to protect those who have permission to be on the other person’s property, such as licenses, invitees, and social guests. However, while trespassers may be on somebody’s property without their permission, they are sometimes afforded protections.

Are trespassers protected under premises liability laws?

Generally, trespassers will not be afforded much protection under the law. Property owners do not have a legal duty to exercise reasonable care to keep trespassers safe. However, a property owner cannot intentionally take actions to cause harm to trespassers, such as setting traps on the premises.

If a property owner knows that people are trespassing often, they could be held accountable if a trespasser is seriously injured due to a situation the property owner created and hid from the trespasser. For example, if a homeowner knows that school children frequently cross their backyard in the mornings to get to school, they cannot dig deep holes and then cover them with leaves as booby traps.

What is an attractive nuisance in Oregon?

Another exception to trespassers when it comes to premises liability in Oregon concerns children and what are called attractive nuisances. It is generally understood that property owners can be held liable for injuries caused to children on their property, even if that child was trespassing at the time of the incident. This is particularly the case if the property owner had reason to believe that a child is likely to trespass.

If a property owner as something on their premises which could attract a child to it (swimming pools, hot tubs, treehouse, swing set, trampoline, etc.), then the property owner has a duty to properly secure the premises to ensure the child cannot get to the “attractive nuisance.”

An attractive nuisance does not necessarily have to be something the child would regularly want to play with. Abandoned cars, construction equipment, old buildings, and more can all be a draw for children. Property owners should predict that any of these could present enticements for children to enter the property and take steps to prevent access.

These injuries can lead to major expenses

Injuries that occur on another person’s property can be severe. It is not uncommon for an Oregon premises liability attorney to help clients who have sustained the following:

  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Concussions

If you have been injured on somebody else’s property, whether you were legally allowed to be there or not, you may be entitled to compensation, and you should speak with a Portland premises liability attorney as soon as possible.