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If people trespass on my property (i.e. walk through my backyard without my permission) and they get injured (i.e. trip and break an arm or a tree branch falls on their head), am I liable under Georgia law?

  • Why would you be liable? Did you do anything wrong? – Zizouz212 Jan 31 '16 at 17:37
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    No but laws are peculiar and not intuitive. My naive answer is that I wouldn't be responsible for injury sustained by a trespasser but wanted to get an expert opinion. – Sajee Jan 31 '16 at 17:55
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This is a general common law answer; Georgia may have statutes or the common law there may change this.

In order to establish negligence as a Cause of Action under the law of torts, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant:

  1. had a duty to the plaintiff,
  2. breached that duty by failing to conform to the required standard of conduct (generally the standard of a reasonable person),
  3. the negligent conduct was, in law, the cause of the harm to the plaintiff, and
  4. the plaintiff was, in fact, harmed or damaged.

For your scenario:

  1. Most jurisdictions have held that you do have a duty to innocent trespassers - people on your property without permission but without criminal intent. The children you describe in your comment fall into that category.
  2. Your duty is to do what a reasonable person would to ensure that your yard is free from unreasonable hazards. If you have an abandoned mine shaft you should fence it sort of thing.
  3. The damage must be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the failure to discharge the duty
  4. The person must actually be harmed.
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    This answer should distinguish between natural hazards, as mentioned in the question, and man-made hazards, such at the mineshaft mentioned in the answer. – jqning Mar 11 '16 at 14:42
  • What about the attractive nuisance doctrine? – Dave D Mar 12 '16 at 1:32
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The duty of care to a trespasser is that the property owner, "would not be liable for anything but affirmative acts amounting to wilfulness."

Montega Corp. v. Grooms, 128 Ga. App. 333, 337 (Ga. Ct. App. 1973)

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It depends. Not knowing about Georgia law, but you are very likely liable if you set up traps in your backyard, and likely liable if you allowed there to be a danger that would affect people like your postman, or kids picking up a ball that dropped over the fence.

And you are only ever liable if the accident is actually your fault. Something that you did wrong causing the accident.

  • No traps or any intentional hazards. We occasionally have neighborhood kids cutting through my property (w/o our permission) so I'm curious about what my liability is if those kids got hurt somehow on my property. – Sajee Jan 31 '16 at 19:54
  • @Sajee Do you have a fence? How foreseeable is it that kids will cut through your yard again? Do you have anything on your property that you think they could hurt themselves on? – user3851 Jan 31 '16 at 20:25
  • No fence and very likely that kids will cut through our yard again. There's nothing that will injure kids on our property but I'm worried that a kid could have an accident and then it would become my problem. – Sajee Feb 9 '16 at 14:59

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