West Virginia Senate Votes to Limit Landowner Liability

March 6, 2013

The West Virginia Senate unanimously passed a bill that would ensure that property owners face very limited liability from trespassers on their land.

In general, common law states that property owners cannot be sued by trespassers unless they recklessly or willfully injure the trespasser.

The bill passed on Tuesday would lock that common law into written legislation.

A recent publication of the non-binding but influential American Law Institute dissolves some of the legal distinctions between trespassers and regular invitees. The institute advises that property owners are still protected against suit from “flagrant” trespassers, but other trespassers would have some added legal standing.

The legislation would limit the traditional discretionary authority of judges to interpret common law practices on a case by case basis.

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