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Injured by Animal Traps While Trespassing in California

If you own a large property in the Oakland area, you might have set traps for various animals. Perhaps you have a farm, and the animals are eating your crops. Maybe you are concerned about dangerous animals such as coyotes and mountain lions. Maybe you just like to hunt and trap small animals. Whatever the case may be, you should be aware of the potential legal implications if a trespasser becomes injured due to one of these traps. Are you liable? Can they sue you for damages as part of a premises liability lawsuit?

On the other hand, you might be someone who ventured onto someone’s property, only to be caught in a trap left by the property owner. These traps can cause serious injuries, and you might be wondering whether you can file a lawsuit against those responsible. Even though you were trespassing at the time of the injury, you might be wondering whether you can still file an injury claim. You might also believe that the property owner intentionally set “booby traps” for trespassers, and that they were never intended to capture animals.

Whatever the case may be, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you want to pursue legal action or defend yourself against lawsuits. With the help of a legal expert, it becomes much easier to pursue a positive legal outcome. Ideally, you should seek out a lawyer who has considerable experience with premise liability law, as they can provide you with sound advice and guide you forward in an efficient manner.

Booby Traps are a Bad Idea

Property owners who set booby traps on their property are taking a massive risk. Time and time again, courts in California have viewed human life as more valuable than property. If you become injured on someone else’s property because you got caught up in a booby trap, you can file criminal charges against them. It does not matter whether you were trespassing, or whether you were actually committing theft while you were injured by the booby trap.

Now, you may be asking yourself: “What is the difference between defending my property with a gun and defending my property with a booby trap?” After all, California follows the so-called “Castle Doctrine,” which means you can use deadly force against intruders. The difference is simple: You can control who you shoot with a gun, while booby traps could hurt innocent people who wander onto your property. These innocent individuals may include playing children and first responders who are just trying to do their jobs.

Not only will property owners face criminal charges for setting booby traps, but they will also face personal injury lawsuits. In the famous case of Katko vs Briney, a man won a settlement of $30,000 after being injured by a rigged shotgun trap in Iowa. This was back in 1971, so the equivalent of $30,000 would be about $200,000 in today’s money. Even if trespassers post clear “No Trespassing” warnings detailing the presence of booby traps on their property, they still become liable for injuries suffered by trespassers. This is because booby traps classify as “wanton conduct,” which means trespassers have the ability to sue.

What if the Traps Were Intended Only to Injure Animals?

If it is clear that traps were intended only to injure or catch animals rather than people, the property owner will probably stand a better chance of a positive legal outcome. That being said, the property owner still technically laid out hazards on their property in an intentional manner. The general assumption is that the property owner knew that these traps had the potential to injure people as well as animals, and yet they did not do anything to address the issue. Their defense becomes even more tenuous if they were aware of people trespassing on their property in the past, and they still set the traps anyway.

What if There Were No Traps?

If you were trespassing on someone else’s property and you were injured, it becomes very difficult to file a personal injury lawsuit against them. The issue is that if the property owner is not aware of your presence, they cannot be realistically expected to ensure your safety. However, if they were aware of your presence and did nothing to address the issue (like calling the police), they may become liable for your injuries.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you are caught up in a lawsuit involving booby traps, animal traps, or any instance of injury while trespassing, it is best to reach out to the pros. Book a consultation with Mary Alexander & Associates at your earliest convenience, and you can approach this delicate matter in the most efficient way possible. In certain situations, you can still pursue meaningful compensation for your injuries, even if you were trespassing.

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