Definition A trespass to land is the intentional invasion of another’s interest in the exclusive possession of land. A person in constructive or actual possession of the land can assert this action.
Physical Invasion A physical invasion to another’s land occurs if a defendant:
Enters upon the land,
Causes another person or an object to enter the land,
Fails to remove something from the land which the defendant is under a legal duty to remove, or
Wrongfully remains on the land, despite a legal entry.
Traditional Rule Trespass was traditionally a strict liability offense under English common law.
Modern Rule One must intend to commit or cause the physical invasion of the plaintiff’s land. No intent to harm is necessary. A reasonable, but mistaken belief that the land was one’s own, or that the actor had a privilege to enter the land is not a defense to trespass. One needs only to intend to step on the land.
Damages Nominal damages, as well as actual damages, may be recovered. A defendant is strictly liable for all consequential damages that naturally, directly and proximately result from the trespass.
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