If someone breaks into a home and the homeowner actively defends themselves, they’re generally within their rights. This leads some homeowners to believe that they can set booby traps in advance to injure someone who potentially breaks into the house or trespasses on their property.
However, doing so is illegal under U.S. law. Even if somebody is not supposed to be on the property, if the homeowner knowingly set up a booby trap with the intention of injuring a trespasser, that trespasser can then sue the homeowner to cover things like medical bills and other costs. The homeowner has violated their rights by injuring them in this fashion.
In other words, a homeowner may be able to injure a trespasser without liability if they are there in person, at the time, and they are honestly defending themselves from perceived harm. If they set up a trap in advance because they know they’re not going to be home, then they have violated that person’s rights, even if they were illegally on the property.
Why is it set up this way?
Some homeowners do feel that this is unfair because they claim they’re just trying to protect their own property and that someone who trespasses should never be there to get injured in the first place. However, the law recognizes that allowing people to set up booby traps could create serious risks for other individuals.
For instance, what if someone is given the wrong address by a friend and accidentally walks into the wrong house? What if a package delivery worker drops something off on the porch and accidentally triggers the device? All sorts of people could be hurt, so it is unsafe for homeowners to go around setting up these sorts of traps.
As such, those who are injured in this manner need to make sure they know about all of the legal options they have.