Tort Law


Fairfax Injury Lawyer Brien Roche Addresses Trespassers Cases

Brien Roche

This page within Virginia Tort Case Law is a compilation of cases reported by the Virginia Supreme Court and summarized by Brien Roche dealing with the topic of Trespassers. 


See Va. Code § 18-2-159 setting forth criminal penalty for trespassing on railroad tracks.


1999 Virginia Elec. & Power Co. v. Dungee, 258 Va. 235, 520 S.E.2d 164.

In this case involving electrical injury to small child who crawled under fence into electrical sub-station, Virginia Power contends that child was trespasser. Plaintiff contended that any trespassing instruction should be given in conjunction with principle stated in Daugherty v. Hippchen, 175 Va. 62, 7 S.E.2d 119 (1942). That case indicated that owner of dangerous instrumentality who knows or should know that children would be playing in area owes proper degree of care to such children even if children are trespassers. Virginia Power refused that modification, therefore, trial court properly refused trespassing instruction.

1981 Norfolk & P.R.R. v. Barker, 221 Va. 924, 275 S.E.2d 613.

No obligation to prevent trespass by infant which triggers danger.

1974 Appalachian Power Co. v. LaForce, 214 Va. 438, 201 S.E.2d 768.

Owner owes trespasser no duty of prevision. There must be notice of trespasser’s danger before duty of protection arises.

1972 Norfolk S. Ry. v. Fincham, 213 Va. 122, 189 S.E.2d 380.

Duty to trespassers, whose presence is known or ought to be known, is one of ordinary care to avoid injury to him. Railroad does not owe trespasser duty of prevision or preparation for his discovery. Jury question presented on negligence of railroad when young boy discovered playing in yard during switching operations. While boy was warned to leave, other alternatives were available.

1948 Washington & O.D.R.R. v. Taylor, 188 Va. 458, 50 S.E.2d 415.

Duty owed to trespasser is more than simply duty not to wantonly and willfully run him over after he is discovered. No duty of prevision as to bare licensees and trespassers.

1947 Atlantic Coast Line R.R. v. Gates, 186 Va. 195, 42 S.E.2d 283.

Railroad owes no duty to trespasser except to abstain from willfully or wantonly injuring. Neither as to trespassers or bare licensees is there duty of prevision. But where railroad knows that railroad is used as walkway for many people, then reasonable care is necessary.

1945 Nolde Bros. v. Chalkley, 184 Va. 553, 35 S.E.2d 827.

Where person rides on employer’s delivery truck with permission of driver but where this is clearly prohibited through instructions to employees and posted signs, then rider may be found to be trespasser.

1943 Dennis v. Odend’Hal-Monks Corp., 182 Va. 77, 28 S.E.2d 4.

Rule regarding trespassers has no application where children of immature years are concerned.

1943 Raven Red Ash Coal Co. v. Griffith, 181 Va. 911, 27 S.E.2d 360.

Duty owed to trespasser is same as is owed to licensee.

For more information on trespass see the pages on Wikipedia.

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