Are Property Owners Liable To Trespassers?

What happens if you are trespassing on someone else’s land and are injured? Do you have a case?

Everything depends on the facts of your particular case. That’s why it’s important to have competent counsel in your corner. We are experienced personal injury attorneys. We practice in Oregon and we provide free consultations to assist you.

In law, actions concerning injury to persons are called “personal injury” cases. Personal injury cases that occur because of the negligence of a land owner or premises occupier are commonly called “premises liability” cases.

Let’s take a closer look at Premises Liability and whether it protects trespassers.

What is Premises Liability?

First, premises liability is the general rule that says that all property owners have a duty to maintain their land to a certain standard. The rule exists to protect people who come onto another’s property. The law tries to protect people from unnecessary injury. It applies to private as well as public properties.

But does it apply to trespassers?

Let’s see.

Who Does The Law Protect?

To decide when and to what extent a property owner is responsible for injuries that occur to people who enter onto the owner’s property, the law divides people into different classes. They are:

  • Licensee —someone who is present for his own purposes, but enters with permission of the owner.
  • Social guest—is someone that is a guest, present with the owner’s permission.
  • Business Invitee— customers, or others who enter the property at the invitation, and for the benefit of the owner. This invitation usually implies that the property owner has taken reasonable steps to make the property safe.
  • Trespasser— someone who enters the premises without permission and has no right to be on the property.

Does Premises Liability Protect Trespassers?

Generally, no. A trespasser is someone who enters onto property without the right to be there. If you do not have permission to be on the property, you are trespassing.

Property owners do not have a legal duty to protect trespassers from injury by exercising reasonable care to either keep the premises in reasonably safe condition or to carry out activities so as not to endanger trespassers.

On the other hand, you can’t go setting booby traps or make other efforts to actively injure a trespasser. Further, if the property owner knows people are trespassing on his property, the owner could be held liable if a trespasser seriously injures himself or herself if the property owner created conditions that were dangerous but hid them.

Consult With an Attorney.

Personal injury cases are never cut-and-dried. If someone has been injured on your property, or if you or someone you love has been injured, you should consider talking with an attorney. We provide free consultations and we have offices throughout Oregon and in Washington. Visit our website or call us toll free at: 1-800-682.9568.

Can Filing a Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Stop Foreclosure?

The worst has happened. You’ve fallen behind on your house payments, and the bank has started foreclosure proceedings. First you got the Notice of Default. Now you’ve been served with the Notice of Sale, telling you that the bank has set a date for the sale of your home. What can you do? Should you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure?

Maybe, but then again, maybe not. Foreclosure laws differ from state to state and they are very complicated. Whether a Chapter 7 filing is right for you depends on your particular circumstances. However, if you are facing foreclosure, it’s important that you understand at least some of the basics, including the difference between a judicial foreclosure and a nonjudicial foreclosure, and:

  • how much time you have to respond to the notices,
  • what your rights are and what laws protect you in foreclosure, and
  • what happens afterwards (for example, whether you’ll be liable for a deficiency judgment).

Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can temporarily stop the sale of your home (because of the “automatic stay”) but that does not mean it will ultimately save your home from foreclosure. Whether a Chapter 7 is the right option for you is something that you should discuss with a bankruptcy attorney. Here at OlsenDaines, our bankruptcy attorneys know the options and care about the outcome. That’s why we offer free consultations, so we can sit down with you and help you decide what is the best approach for you and your family.

While a Chapter 7 will give you the benefit of the automatic stay, bringing the foreclosure to a halt until discharge or the stay is lifted, unlike a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, it will not allow you to catch up on missed mortgage payments. That’s because a Chapter 7 is a liquidation bankruptcy designed to discharge (wipe out) unsecured personal debts (e.g., credit card debt and medical bills).

Chapter 7 Will Erase Personal Liability on the Note, But it Won’t Eliminate the Lien.

When you took your loan from the bank, you signed a Promissory Note (“Note”) agreeing to repay the money. And you secured that promise with a Deed Of Trust (“Deed”), creating a lien on your property. Chapter 7 will wipe out the amount you still owe on the Note, but it won’t wipe out the mortgage lien. That means that if you are behind in your payments on your mortgage, your lender can foreclose on your property. It also means that the lender can continue a foreclosure that was delayed by your bankruptcy once you are discharged or a relief from the automatic stay (“relief from stay”) is granted. The same thing applies to other liens on the property; like homeowner association liens, or condominium liens.

No Deficiency.

On the other hand, the lender cannot get a deficiency judgment against you after a nonjudicial foreclosure. (A deficiency is the difference between the amount you owe on the loan and what the house sells for at the nonjudicial foreclosure sale.) In many states, absent a bankruptcy, the lender can come after the homeowner for this amount. Oregon laws prevent a lender from getting a deficiency judgment after a nonjudicial foreclosure, a judicial foreclosure of a residential trust deed, or a short sale (if certain conditions are met). But Oregon does not have laws about deficiency judgments where a deed is given in lieu of foreclosure (“deed in lieu”). That means you need to be careful if you accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, because the specific language of the deed in lieu negotiated between the borrower and the bank will govern whether or not the lender can seek a deficiency.

Talk to a Lawyer!

Losing your home to foreclosure is stressful and can be devastating. The foreclosure laws are complex and confusing. If you are facing foreclosure or struggling with debt, take advantage of our free consultation and talk to one of our experienced Oregon or Washington bankruptcy attorneys. We can help you decide what course is best for you and your family. Call us at 1-800-682-9568 today!