As any parent will tell you, children are naturally curious and often find ways to get themselves in trouble. Due to their inquisitive nature, children will frequently go off and explore interesting and exciting new areas. A type of premises liability law known as “attractive nuisance” is in place to protect children who may wander onto a property and become injured.
Premises liability is a type of law that holds property owners accountable for injuries held on their property if they have failed to take necessary care to ensure that the property is safe. Attractive nuisance is a special part of premises liability that is designed to specifically protect children from attractive and dangerous situations.
If a property owner has a dangerous condition on the property that is likely to be attractive to children who may trespass onto the property, the owner has a responsibility to ensure that all of the proper precautions are taken to keep kids safe. An old locomotive engine or an out-of-commission carnival ride are examples of dangerous conditions that might attract children to a property. A property owner must make certain to notify a child of the possible danger with a sign and to put up a fence around the object in an attempt to keep a child from playing on or around the object and becoming injured.
Children face the possibility of serious injuries in circumstances like this. Playing on or around a piece of machinery, for example, can cause injury or even death. A child could become caught up in a piece of machinery, or may fall from a great height. These kinds of incidents cause broken bones, head injuries, and even internal damage.
If your child entered a property and became injured due to a dangerous condition that is on that property, your child may have a valid claim for damages against the property owner. However, just because your child was injured does not mean your child has a claim. There are important factors to consider…
First, is proximity, children must be likely to trespass in the area. For example, perhaps the property in question is near a school, playground or a neighborhood full of children. A factor to consider would be is it likely a child could trespass on property.
Second, the property owner must know, or should have known, that the condition is dangerous, and likely to injure a child. Usually, natural conditions, such as a body of water, are not covered under the attractive nuisance provision of the law. It was designed for man-made objects that children would not immediately recognize to be dangerous.
Third, the property owner must have failed to identify the dangerous condition. A property owner should have put up signs and fences to make children aware of the potential danger. Clearly, with children signs often times have little or no value, therefore, the property owner must go the extra step of fencing in or limiting access to the dangerous condition. If a landowner has taken care to identify the danger, he or she is complying with the requirement of ensuring the property is safe for children who might come onto the premises. The attractive nuisance law is aimed at property owners who fail to alert children to a danger they are unaware of. A property owner must have failed to exercise reasonable care to keep the property safe to be held responsible for a child’s injury.
The hope is children do not get injured regardless of whose property they are on. It is important for parents to be diligent and constantly monitor their children and warn them of the dangerous conditions they see. It is also incumbent on the parents to instruct children to stay off of others’ properties, however, this is not always successful and there are some children who do not listen.
As a society we want to protect the children as much as possible from injury but encourage curiosity for learning and exploring. As such, we have to balance our desire for safety with our desire for fostering knowledge and exploring.
Ty Wilson is a injury attorney in Lawrenceville. Visit tywilsonlaw.com to read Ty’s many articles, watch his videos and to order his FREE BOOKS. If you have questions for a Metro Atlanta accident attorney today, give Ty a call at 1-866-937-5454.