If My Child was Injured while Trespassing, Can I still Sue?

When an adult trespasser is harmed on a property, he may not be able to sue because the landowner owes no duty to him, but this principle may not be applied when the trespasser is a child. Nevada’s premises liability laws and attractive nuisance doctrine may provide a path for recovery when a child is injured on the property of another, even when he or she did not have permission to be on the property.

Premises Liability Principles

For much of its history, Nevada followed traditional common law principles which required property owners to demonstrate a heightened duty of care to certain types of visitors. Invitees are individuals such as business clients or customers, and they were traditionally owed the highest duty of care such as routinely looking for any dangers on the property. Licensees were house guests and other individuals who had permission to be on the property. Property owners were required to notify these individuals of any hazards on the property that were not obvious. Landowners only had the duty of not intentionally trying to harm trespassers.

However, the current premises liability principles require that landowners exercise a reasonable duty of care to individuals on their property. While this requirement does not extend to trespassers, property owners are still prohibited from intentionally harming trespassers. Nevada law only imposes liability in cases where the victim was lawfully on the property if intentional harm is not present in the case. A premises liability lawyer can explain that the duty owed to children trespassers may be elevated if the attractive nuisance doctrine applies.

Attractive Nuisance

Nevada recognizes that children do not have a full understanding of the consequences of certain actions. This is why pools must have secure fences around them to prevent children from getting into the pool and drowning. If a property owner maintains an attractive nuisance on his or her land, the property owner may still be liable for harm done to a child who was trespassing.

An attractive nuisance claim may be made when:

  • There was a dangerous condition on the property that was likely to attract children
  • The property owner knew about this condition
  • The property owner failed to take steps to prevent trespassing children from approaching the dangerous condition

A premises liability lawyer can explain that an attractive nuisance may be a natural condition such as a pond or a stream or something brought onto the property like an amusement ride or animal.

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