Attractive Nuisance And Injuries To Children
Property owners are sometimes surprised to learn that they may be responsible for the injuries sustained by trespassers who go onto their property uninvited. While a property owner does not owe trespassers a duty to keep the premises safe, the property owner does owe a duty to trespassers, especially children, a duty to keep his property free of certain dangers. Children are in a special category because they may not always perceive the danger in a certain situation when they trespass on a property.
Liability to landowners for injuries to trespassing children is often based on the attractive nuisance doctrine. Under this doctrine, a property owner can be held liable for the injuries to trespassing children caused by an artificial condition found on the property as long as other elements can be proven. As an initial matter, the status of the child as a trespasser must be proven. If the child was invited onto the property, the attractive nuisance doctrine would not apply.
Courts, in both Georgia and Florida generally, make a distinction between natural and artificial conditions upon the property. For example, a trespassing child injured as a result of naturally caused flood waters may not receive compensation under an attractive nuisance doctrine whereas a child injured by water in a swimming pool might recover compensation under the doctrine. Other examples of artificial conditions include the presence of refrigerators, freezer, man-made trenches and ditches that are left uncovered.
The attractive nuisance that forms the basis of a personal injury claim must also have actually attracted the children to the property. If a child did not know of the attractive nuisance until after going to the property for another reason, the attractive nuisance doctrine may not apply, although the property owner may still be liable under other legal theories.
The age of the child, his intelligence and maturity matters in determining what effect the attractive nuisance had on the child. A younger child is more likely to fail to understand the danger posed by playing in a certain area than an older child. If there are signs warning trespassers of dangers on the property, a very young child may not understand what the sign says and is therefore not put on guard.
Another important aspect of the attractive nuisance doctrine is the requirement that the landowner have notice that children are likely to trespass on his land. If there have been repeated reports or complaints to the property owner of children going onto the property to play in a particular area, this can serve as notice to the property owner. If the property owner has notice of the possibility of children trespassing onto his property, knows of the dangerous condition and fixing the condition would be less burdensome that the risk posed to the children, then the property owner is likely to be found liable for the children’s injuries.
Reach Out to Us for Help
If your child was injured on another person’s property, you can seek compensation from the property owner even if your child did not have permission to be on the property. For assistance in filing the appropriate claim, contact an experienced Jacksonville, Florida personal injury attorney at Gillette Law, P.A. for a free consultation.