Does Florida Law Hold Property Owners Liable When Trespassers Sustain Injuries on Their Premises?

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It seems logical to assume that trespassers who enter a property are responsible for any injuries they sustain. However, it may surprise you to learn that Florida law looks more deeply into the details of these cases, and that there are certain instances in which the property owner could actually face liability claims.

As you would expect, a burglar who trips over merchandise in a dark warehouse cannot reasonably expect to pursue compensation from the proprietor. However, Florida law does not offer immunity to property owners whose gross negligence or intentional misconduct is the proximate cause of injury to a trespasser, such as in the following examples:

  • Rigging weapons to motion sensors to injure anyone who walks into the path of the sensor
  • Failing to adhere to building codes to the point where anyone could sustain injury, such as by a damaged roof collapsing
  • Maintaining security by using dangerous guard dogs without posting prominent notice of their presence

Of course, the law contains no specific list of the conditions that represent gross negligence or intentional misconduct. It relies on a judge or jury to use discretion and make the determination based on the details of each case and the legal definition of a trespasser under the law. For example, an adult who gains illegal entry into a building by breaking down a door would have fewer rights to sue for injury than the parents of a child who crawls through a gap in a fence.