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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 111551
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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This is a question liability lawyer in Hawaii. I own an

Customer Question

This is a question for a liability lawyer in Hawaii. I own an improved lot in a development with power and water to the streetside. The one acre lot is heavily posted with signs to keep off, wildlife and fall danger, per Hawaii law. There is brush on the lot as with many lots in the area not built on yet. It is not recreational land.
With the posting the only real concern I have is that a fire could be started by lightening or someone not invited to the property. I know I am responsible if I or someone I invite to the property starts a fire.
It is very difficult to keep brush down there and I am not sure that would change the liability situation anyway. If a fire is started by lightening or someone not invited to the property am I conceivably liable? Does brush on the property change things? Would forming a one per LLC really make any difference. My main question is about fire liability. I have already protected myself per HI law for persons entering the property without my permission. I know HI law treats all classes of persons entering the property the same for liability unless a the dangers are clearly signed.
My homeowners insurance does not cover as there is power and water the lot.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Mahalo.
Under Hawaiian law, you are liable for your guests or invitees onto your land, but not actions of trespassers as long as you maintain your land in reasonably safe condition. If you are posted and you have taken all precautions that are reasonable to keep trespassers off the land you are not liable for conduct of people who do not have your permission to be on your land. So, you would not be liable in most all cases if you took reasonable actions to post and keep tresspassers from your land and you keep your land in reasonable condition with maintaining hazards.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
IN adequate response, please see question. This needs a HI attorney to answer.. Not only is the answer inadequate it is also not correct at all. That is not remotely related to the HI statutes. Please do not charge me.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. As we have no attorney experts on this site licensed in HI please do not hold your breath for one to come to answer you as you will be even more displeased.
And the answer actually IS accurate based on invitee law in HI regarding actions of others who are not supposed to be on your land.
This is not the same as premises liability for injuries to someone on your land itself. However, for actions caused by an uninvited third party on the land that is posted, that part is the liable party and not the land owner who takes reasonable action to stop people from coming on their land is not liable.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
By the way the HI Supreme Court agrees that a landowner is not liable for act of an uninvited trespasser, who is violating the law merely by being on property that is posted and uninvited. In Doe v. Grosvenor Properties (Hawaii) Ltd., 73 Haw. 158, 164-65, 829 P.2d 512, 515 (1992), the court held the landowner is not liable for what happens when someone comes onto their property and causes damage to property of others or harms themselves.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I appreciate your response very much, and I will look into the case you reported out to me. Lets leave the case open for the moment. There is also the question mentioned of lightening striking brush, starting a fire and burning down another home. I do not want to cheat you out of your fee, if the question is being answered fully and correctly. I did want a response from a HI attorney however, but you indicate that is not possible. I do appreciate you pointing out the difference between my liability for others injured coming onto the land , vs damage THEY cause while there. HI trespassing laws changed drastically when all classes of entrants to the land are entitled to the same protection regardless of class of entrant ( invited vs NOT). However the law is very clear that adequate warnings clearly posted relieves the landowner of liability to uninvited parties who are injured on one's property.You are obviously a sharp guy.. thanks for getting back to me.Let me check on some things and you can think about lightening. I won' t ask you to comment on lava flowing from above, thru my property and onto another's land. ( just kidding about the lava response).
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Another angle is whether "control of brush on property " has any bearing on liability from uninvited person starting a fire or nature.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
So, for other than trespasser actions, things such as lightning or rain flowing off your property the court holds that for an act of God the landowner is not necessarily liable unless the risk of harm is reasonably foreseeable to the reasonable person. See: Cootey v. Sun Inv., Inc., 690 P. 2d 1324 - Haw: Intermediate Court of Appeals 1984
As you can imagine that this makes liability for "foreseeable" acts of God all over the place as far as courts are concerned and it depends on the condition of the land and what act of God or nature caused the damage to occur and the courts and juries are, as you may guess, unpredictable. All you can do for Acts of God is make sure your property is kept in good condition and that is ALL you can do and carry separate insurance on the land itself (not homeowners).
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I will be back to you later tonight. Unfortunately liability insurance for this is more expensive that the same land with a million dollar home on it! I presume the case you quote above have not been super ceded by later cases.?
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Again. thanks ... I thought it might get complicated. I will be back to you.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you for your reply.
Nothing is ever easy and in all of my trips to HI, I have never found anything there really cheap. The case I gave you above has not been superseded, but the cases are all over the place not because of what the Supreme Court says, but because it depends on the condition of the land and the foreseeability that harm could be caused by the act of God and like I said above that is open to so much interpretation it would make a reasonable person pull their hair out.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** you replied, but I am not seeing any replies.
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
You said above, "And the answer actually IS accurate based on invitee law in HI regarding actions of others who are not supposed to be on your land." What statute?
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Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 9 months ago.
I gave you the case name and case law, not everything is based on actual statutes. Some legal principles, like premises liability is developed through the case law as it is in this case.