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Trespass - Damaged Property

Visitors on another party's property in Pennsylvania are divided into three categories: Invitees are people who are invited onto property by property owners and are owed the highest duty of care; licensees are people who enter or remain upon property with permission and are owed a duty to be warned of known dangerous conditions, but cannot sue for conditions unknown by the property owners; and trespassers are people who enter property without the consent of the property owner. 

A property owner typically owes no duty of care to a trespasser, but the property owner cannot intentionally, willfully, or wantonly inflict injuries on trespassers. The duty of care exception does not apply when a trespasser is a child, as children are not old enough to be presumed legally negligent.

Lawyer for Trespass on Damaged Property Injuries in West Chester, PA

Did you or your child suffer serious injuries while trespassing on another party's property? You will want to contact Ciccarelli Law Offices as soon as possible. 

Our personal injury attorneys in West Chester represent clients in Delaware County, Chester County, Montgomery County, Lancaster County, and the greater Philadelphia area. You can have our lawyers provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call (610) 719-3190 to receive a free initial consultation.

Overview of Trespass - Damaged Property Accidents in Chester County

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Property Owners Duty to Trespassers in Pennsylvania

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania stated in Evans v. Philadelphia Transportation Co., 418 Pa. 567, 212 A.2d 440 (1965) that a property owner's legal obligation to trespassers is the avoidance of willful or wanton misconduct. In Dudley v. USX Corp., 414 Pa. Super. 160, 606 A.2d 916 (1992), the Superior Court of Pennsylvania cited the Supreme Court's definition of the standard of care owed to trespassers on land and defined willful and wanton misconduct as follows: 

  • Willful misconduct is "conduct of such a nature that the actor desired to bring about the result that followed or at least was aware that it was substantially certain to follow." 
  • Wanton misconduct is "conduct wherein the actor intentionally performs an act of an unreasonable character in disregard to a risk known to him or so obvious that he must be taken to have been aware of it and so great as to make it highly probable that harm would follow." 

While it may be difficult for a person to seek compensation for injuries they sustained while committing a trespassing offense, property owners can face liability issues when they become aware that their property is commonly used by trespassers but fail to remove certain hazards. Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 42 § 7102 establishes that a plaintiff's negligence does not bar a recovery by the plaintiff so long as his or her negligence was not greater than the causal negligence of the defendant or defendants against whom recovery is sought.

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Attractive Nuisance Doctrine in West Chester

Children are not legally considered adults in Pennsylvania until they turn 18 years of age, but they cannot be considered legally negligent at any point before that. While certain types of artificial hazards—such as trampolines or swimming pools—present dangers that can be anticipated by adults, it is generally assumed that children may be attracted to such items without fully appreciating the associated risks. 

For this reason, certain items on a landowner's property may be considered "attractive nuisances." An attractive nuisance generally needs to be some kind of manmade object for which a property owner must use some kind of preventive measures to avoid the object being used by children (such as putting a cover over or a gate around a pool). 

In Bartleson v. Glen Alden Coal Co., 361 Pa. 519, 64 A.2d 846 (1949), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court concluded, "To the extent that past cases are in conflict with the view of section 339 of the Restatement of the Law of Torts, which we have adopted, they are no longer authority." As the Court noted, the Restatement of the Law of Torts, section 339, provides that a possessor of land is subject to liability for bodily harm to young children trespassing thereon caused by a structure or other artificial condition which he maintains upon the land, if: 

  • the place where the condition is maintained is one upon which the possessor knows or should know that such children are likely to trespass;
  • the children because of their youth do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling in it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it; and
  • the utility to the possessor of maintaining the condition is slight as compared to the risk to young children involved therein.

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Pennsylvania Trespass - Damaged Property Resources

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and Section 339 of the Restatement of Torts: A Case Study of Opinion-Writing — Founded in 1852 as the American Law Register, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review is the oldest law journal in the United States. View the full text of an article discussing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court's adoption of Section 339 of the Restatement of Torts governing landholder liability to trespassing children. The article discusses the adoption of a restatement provision, delineation of the status of former doctrines, and judicial gloss on legal terms. 

Robert F. Boden, Elements of Attractive Nuisance, 34 Marq. L. Rev. 196 (1951) — View the full text of an article published in the Marquette Law Review that discusses the attractive nuisance doctrine. The article touches on the history or attractive nuisance in American courts as well as the Restatement of Torts. The article examines what constitutes an attractive nuisance and concludes that "it would seem that the problems of attractive nuisance can be reduced to this common denominator: the conflict between the property right of the occupier of land to exclusive possession and the personal right of the child to be free from subjection to unreasonable risks of harm."

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Find a Trespass on Damaged Property Injury Attorney in West Chester, PA

If you or your child sustained catastrophic injuries while trespassing on another party's property, it is in your best interest to immediately retain legal counsel. Ciccarelli Law Offices has office locations in Springfield, Malvern, King of Prussia, Plymouth Square, Lancaster, Radnor, Kennett Square, and Philadelphia. 

Our West Chester personal injury lawyers can fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages. Call (610) 719-3190 or complete an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and answer all of your legal questions during a free, no obligation consultation. 

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