Is a property owner responsible for injuries sustained by trespassers?
Being struck by a moving train is an event that usually ends in death. On rare occasions someone survives this catastrophe. On those occasions, is the railroad responsible for that person’s injuries? That depends on the person’s status. If the person was a trespasser, the railroad may be off the hook. A recent case coming out of Essex County, New Jersey, will be subject to this analysis.
On September 8, 2016, a NJ Transit train that had departed from New York’s Penn Station, bound for Montclair State University, struck a young man. The accident happened in the late morning at the Bloomfield Train Station. There was an initial confusion about the man’s age, which also effects whether he will be able to recover for his injuries. Reports first stated he was 14, but later it was discovered that he was actually 18 and a student at Bloomfield High School. Miraculously, the young man survived the strike, only sustaining a head injury. The incident caused major delays and in a statement by NJ Transit relating to the incident, the young man was described as a trespasser. His status as a trespasser determines whether he will be able to recover for his injuries.
The law holds that a property owner only owes a minimal duty of care to a trespasser. This means that the property owner will usually only be held responsible for a trespasser’s injuries if he or she injured the trespasser intentionally or through wanton conduct. If the trespasser is a child, things change slightly. If something on the premises would cause a prudent property owner to reasonably expect that children would be attracted to it, the property owner must take steps to prevent injury. It should also be mentioned that in this case, NJ Transit is a government entity, and therefore certain additional requirements must be fulfilled before bringing suit against them.
It is hard to say how this case will turn out without all of the necessary facts. But, if you were injured at the fault of a private person or entity or a government-related party, you do have rights. Contact a skilled personal injury attorney today.