In our last post, we began discussing Illinois law concerning premises liability, and specifically the duties property owners owe to those entering onto their property. As we noted, the general rule is that property owners owe a reasonable duty of care under the circumstances.
For property owners who have a lot of traffic on their property, or who have dangerous conditions or conduct dangerous activities on their property, one area to be aware of is trespass. Property owners have different duties toward adult trespassers than they do toward child trespassers.
With respect to adult trespassers, landowners have a relatively small duty: to avoid willful and wanton conduct which endangers the safety of known trespassers from dangerous conditions or activities. In other words, there must be both knowledge of the trespasser and intentional or deliberate endangerment of the trespasser. An example of this might be when a property owner, in order to discourage trespassers, sets up a dangerous condition which ends up harming a trespasser.
When it comes to trespassing children, the property owner’s duty is greater, though only when certain circumstances arise. In cases where a property owner has a dangerous structure or condition on the property which was likely to injure children, knows or should know about trespassing children, and when the risk to children outweighs the expense and inconvenience of correcting the dangerous situation, property owners are expected to take action to keep child trespassers safe.
It should be kept in mind that, when these conditions are not applicable, children who enter onto a property without permission have no greater rights than adults.
Those who are harmed by a property owner’s failure to take steps to keep entrants safe need to understand their options for seeking compensation. Working with an experienced attorney is important to ensure they understand the law and the process of litigation, but also so that they have the best possible advocacy in their case.
Source: Luu v. Kim, 323 Ill. App. 3d 946, 752 NE 2d 547, 256 Ill. Dec. 667 (1st Dist. 2001), app. den. 196 Ill. 2d 544.