While many property owners attempt to prevent people from wandering onto their land using “no trespassing” signs, these signs do very little to promote safety on the premises. Businesses and landowners have a reasonable duty to make their premises safe, and simply posting a sign is not enough to relieve them of liability when an accident occurs.
For example, a no trespassing sign is unlikely to prove effective against:
- Children. Posted signs are not a deterrent if people cannot read them. Many young children may wander into a neighbor’s yard and be attacked by a dog or drown in an unguarded swimming pool, and they cannot be held legally liable for their own actions.
- Attractive nuisances. There are some dangers that can seem appealing to young children and teenagers, making a sign unlikely to warn them away. Power tools, ladders leaning against trees or buildings, large piles of leaves or snow, lawn ornaments, or decorative fountains may entice visitors onto a property.
- Criminals. A business owner should take reasonable care to reduce the likelihood of criminal activity on his property. Criminals may disregard no trespassing signs, making them an inadequate defense against personal danger. Owners can only reduce their liability by providing proper security measures, such as bright lighting on the property after dark, posted security guards, and working security cameras.
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