A burglar smashed your living room window to break into your home. While he was in the process of taking your flat screen television off the wall, he steps on your kid's toy car and falls on his back, spraining it. The TV then falls on his face breaking his nose. To add insult to injury, the burglar is now suing you for his injuries!
Can a burglar really sue the homeowner for injuries during a break in?
According to premise liability rules, homeowners are sometimes liable for injuries suffered on their property. The level of responsibility varies depending on the type of person injured.
Invitees are people who the homeowner invites onto the property for a specific purpose. For example, a gardener is an invitee because he's invited onto the property by the owner to take care of the garden.
For invitees, homeowners have a duty to take reasonable steps to assure that the property is safe for the invitee.
Licensees are people who with the consent of the homeowner enters property for their own purposes. A social guest is a licensee. For licensees, homeowners must exercise reasonable care to protect licensees from known dangers.
Trespassers, including burglars, are people who do not have permission or a lawful right to be on a homeowner's property. Homeowners, generally, have no duty to protect trespassers from dangers. So, a burglar cannot sue for tripping on a toy car or being hit by a falling television.
There are several exceptions to this rule:
If you are ever sued by a burglar or other trespasser for injuries suffered while on your property, consult with a personal injury defense lawyer for help.