In general, trespassers cannot hold a property owner liable for any injuries sustained while trespassing. The attractive nuisance doctrine provides an exception to these laws, which is meant to protect children. Because children are often explorers who may not recognize hazardous situations, they can be injured by dangerous conditions on another person’s property. The attractive nuisance doctrine holds property owners responsible for injuries, if they have not taken reasonable care to protect the hazard.
What Are Attractive Nuisances?
The Florida attractive nuisance doctrine lists a number of conditions that could be considered dangerous to children, including:
- Ice boxes, refrigerators, freezer lockers, washers, dryers, and other airtight units that can be closed and latched.
- Swimming pools, man-made ponds, and fountains
- Leaning ladders
- Power tools left out
- Abandoned vehicles
- Construction sites
- Lawn tractors
- Abandoned buildings
- Mine shafts and tunnels
Nearly any hazardous, man-made condition may be considered an attractive nuisance if the property owner hasn’t taken reasonable precautions to protect the area. These actions can include signage, fencing, locks, and removing dangers.
What Must Be Proven For an Attractive Nuisance Case
As with any injury case, there are several factors which must be proven. While trespassers typically cannot file an injury claim, Florida law seeks to protect children by allowing a claim if certain requirements.
A property owner may be liable for a child’s injuries if:
- The property owner knows or has reason to know there is a dangerous condition where children may trespass.
- The hazardous condition is known to or should be known to cause unreasonable risk of injury to children.
- The child is too young to recognize the risk involved in the dangerous situation.
- The burden of eliminating the danger is less than the risk posed to children.
- The property owner does not act with reasonable care to remove or secure the hazard to protect children.
These factors must be demonstrated by a parent who intends to file an injury claim for their child under the attractive nuisance doctrine. The law holds property owners to a higher standard if they create an artificial condition on their land which may pose a risk to children. The legal theory of attractive nuisance hold that many children are too young to fully appreciate the danger of a situation and to react accordingly.
What Can a Landowner Do to Reduce Liability?
As a property owner, you have a duty to keep your property safe for children, whether they are invited or not. If you have children of your own, you may already have taken steps to protect them and others from dangerous conditions. Even if you feel your property is safe, it may be worth taking a closer look.
Here are some actions you can take to reduce your liability according to the attractive nuisance doctrine:
- Comply with all state laws and local ordinances regarding attractive nuisances.
- Put away tools and other equipment when not in use.
- Put up fencing around hazardous areas and lock all gates to discourage access.
- Post No Trespassing or other warning signs.
- Remove doors from unwanted appliances until they can be permanently removed from your property.
- Warn adult neighbors of any dangerous conditions on your property.
- Notice if passing children stop to look at something on your property, and investigate what may have caught their attention. If it is dangerous, take steps to reduce the danger.
Get In Touch With Our Dunedin Premises Liability Attorneys - (727) 270-8260
If your child has been injured on another person’s property due to unsafe conditions, you may be able to file a claim on behalf of your child. Our team at Paulsen Law Group can thoroughly investigate your claim and advise you as to your best options. Our Dunedin premises liability lawyers are backed by 30 years of collective experience, and we have the detailed knowledge and skill to fight for your claim.