Property owners owe duties of care to keep their premises reasonably safe for visitors to their property, but most trespassers are exempted — except children. Generally, people who are present on another’s property and injured by a dangerous condition that exists on the property may not recover damages from the property owner in premises liability lawsuits. However, the law provides an exception for children if certain circumstances apply. A premises liability lawyer represents children and the families of children when they are injured on the property of others if the outlined circumstances apply.
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Explaining Attractive Nuisances
The statute lists the circumstances that may make property owners liable to trespassing children. If the condition that injures the child is an artificial one that the owner knows or should reasonably know would pose an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to the child, the condition may be a qualifying one. The children must also not reasonably be aware of the risk posed to them by the dangerous condition, and the danger to visiting children must outweigh any costs to the owner of repairing the condition or eliminating the risk. Finally, the owner must not have taken any steps to remedy the condition that caused a trespassing child’s death or injury.
Liability to child trespassers exists under a legal concept called attractive nuisances, which are artificial conditions that attract children and make it likelier for them to trespass. One example of an attractive nuisance that causes numerous deaths and injuries to children every year is a backyard swimming pool. Children who see pools may trespass in order to swim, and they may drown or suffer other injuries as a result. Other examples include such items as trampolines or backyard playground equipment.
Duty of Property Owners to Children
When a homeowner has an attractive nuisance on his or her property, he or she should take steps to prevent children from trespassing in order to play in or on it. Pools should be fenced off with locking gates to prevent entry. It is best for people to use privacy fencing to keep children from being able to see the pools when they are passing by. Fencing should also be used around other backyard items. A premises liability lawyer sees many cases involving children who are injured by attractive nuisances and advises homeowners to take the appropriate steps.