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Am I responsible in New Hampshire if a trespasser is injured?

You may know that you are responsible for creating a safe environment for people who come to your home or business in New Hampshire. For example, if someone stops by to deliver a package and is injured because you have made no effort to clear away snow and ice, you could be liable. However, does this still apply if the person is trespassing and you did not want him or her to be on the property in the first place?

Generally speaking, you are not going to be responsible in a situation like this. Since the person entered your property without your invitation or your permission -- and perhaps by forcible entry -- then there is no inherent implication that the property is going to be a safe place for him or her. You did not know he or she would be there in the same way that you knew the package delivery person would arrive, so his or her health is not your concern.

There are some exceptions to this rule, however, which can make it a bit of a gray area. If you have created an unsafe area through artificial means -- setting up an electric fence, for example -- then you may have to put up some sort of warning for the trespasser if you know that there is a good chance that someone will end up entering the property without your permission. This does not mean that you have to make the property safe, per se, but just that you have to warn the person that it is dangerous so that he or she knows what he or she is entering into.

As you can imagine, gray areas are tricky within the law, so make sure you know what options and rights you have.

Source: FindLaw, "Premises Liability: Who Is Responsible?" accessed Jan. 20, 2015

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