As we steadily approach the one year anniversary of the landmark premises liability decision in Bailey v. Schaaf, the anticipated fall out is upon us. Recently, two concurrent legislative bills were passed in the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate with regards to trespassers and landowner liability. Under House Bill 5335 and Senate Bill 0788, known as “Trespass Liability Act,” trespassers will now be severely limited in establishing claims against negligent landowners that cause personal injury.
Under the Act, a land owner or one who is in lawful possession of land will neither owe a duty of care to trespassers, nor be found liable for a trespasser’s injuries. This is particularly concerning given that trespassers, as compared with the standard of care owed to either a licensees or invitees, are already limited in their legal recourse for personal injuries. Senior Partner from Moss & Colella, P.C., David M. Moss, expressed to Michigan Lawyer’s Weekly that these new bills are “appreciated, but not demanded.” In fact, Mr. Moss highlighted an important part of the bill that “if it [the bills] didn’t have any exceptions, it would be onerous.”
Essentially, trespassers would be left with the already bare-bones protection currently in existence. A trespasser would only be allowed to bring a suit against a landowner for: willful and wanton conduct; awareness of a trespasser and failure to use ordinary care; “constructive” awareness of a trespasser and failure to use reasonable care; or the traditional attractive nuisance doctrine. Perhaps this is only the beginning towards more controversial and troubling changes in premises liability laws and the legal rights of those who suffer serious injuries as a result of a landowner’s negligence. Or, maybe this is just a reflection of the public’s apathy toward those who are injured where they dont belong?
To see the full article featuring quotes from Moss & Colella, P.C., Senior Partner, David M. Moss, please see:
If you have any questions, please email Fahd Haque at FHaque@mosscolella.com