Can a trespasser sue a property owner for their injuries in Iowa?

Iowa City, IA – While it may be easy to assume that a property owner has absolutely no duty to a trespasser on their land or in their building, the law is actually more complex. Property owners do have a general duty to keep others safe on their land and fix known dangers. However dangers that are not foreseeable or outside the intended use of the land will not have a corresponding duty for the owner. Even trespassers cannot be left to dangers if the owner knows of their presence. 

Premises liability

Premises liability is an area of the law that deals with a property owner’s responsibility to keep others safe from injuries caused by unsafe conditions, accidents, and various obstacles. All property should be safe for expected guests when used for its intended purposes and normal business. 

The duty to warn trespassers

The definition of a trespasser is someone who did not obtain permission to be on another’s land. There is a certain assumption of risk by anyone who chooses to trespass or enter unfamiliar areas. A trespasser may also be arrested and charged criminally in some cases. 

While a landowner cannot be expected to warn a trespasser about dangerous conditions on a piece of land if they do not know of the person’s presence, they must alert the person of dangers if they are discovered. An area where guests are not expected also may not need to be maintained or repaired in case a trespasser ever enters, as this is not a foreseeable risk. 

Lawsuits against property owners

If someone wants to be compensated after an injury on another person’s property, they will need to establish negligence through various forms of evidence. Negligence means that the defendant breached their duty of care and was the actual cause of the victim’s losses and injuries. The plaintiff must prove every element of a negligence lawsuit to collect money, otherwise the jury is instructed to find in favor of the defense. 

The compensation available to the victim is contingent on their injuries. Someone who has large medical bills and misses a substantial amount of work may be compensated a significant amount. However, someone who has only a trivial injury may not receive much from going through the process of a lawsuit. It is best for anyone who has been hurt one someone else’s property to speak with a local lawyer to receive advice about the most reasonable course of action. 

Iowa accident and injury attorneys

Eells and Tronvold Law Offices is available to assist local clients throughout Iowa with their injury lawsuits. Individuals who think they may need assistance from an attorney can schedule a meeting to discuss the specifics of their situation. 

Firm contact info:

Eells and Tronvold Law Offices 

1921 51st Street NE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-2400  



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