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What duty of care do property owners owe to trespassers?

People in New York enter onto other people's property every day. Every time people go into a store, a restaurant, a movie theater or any other type of business they are entering onto another party's property. When they do this they expect the property owner will keep the property free of dangerous conditions to help ensure their safety. The property owners also have a duty to this in order to keep these invited guests safe. However, not everyone who enters onto another party's property is an invited guest.

In many situations, people are not invited onto property and are considered "trespassers." Property owners in general do not owe any duty of care to trespassers. This is true even if the property owner knew there was a dangerous condition on the property. However, there are a couple of exceptions to this rule and trespassers in certain situations may have a premises liability claim.

One is if the property owner knew about the trespassers and did not take active steps to keep the trespasser out or make it clear the trespasser was not welcome. The other is a rule for children trespassers and is known as the "attractive nuisance" doctrine. This doctrine holds the property owner liable if the condition on the property would attract children to it who would not be smart enough to understand the dangers. This applies even if the property owner had no idea the children were on the property. In both of these exceptions, the victim could receive compensation from the property owner as if they were invited onto the property.

There are many trespassers in New York who enter onto other party's property knowing they were not invited. For the most part, if they get injured on the property, it is their own fault. However, if they fit into either exception, then they could be entitled to compensation. This compensation can be very valuable for the victim, who may incur significant medical bills treating injuries.

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