Children are little explorers, but that doesn’t mean that they can recognize the dangers of their surroundings or when they are trespassing. As a landowner, you may be concerned about trespassing children becoming injured. If a child is injured on your property, will you be held responsible for their accident? The answer can depend on the circumstances of the accident.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
In Florida, the attractive nuisance doctrine is a law that provides protection for injured children. The law holds that young children lack the maturity and understanding to recognize and avoid hazardous situations. Additionally, this doctrine holds that property owners owe children a duty of care by protecting dangerous artificial conditions on their property. These conditions may include:
- Pools and spas
- Man-made ponds, lakes, or streams
- Drainage channels
- Abandoned cars
- Outbuildings, guesthouses, sheds
- Abandoned large appliances
- Construction sites
- Gravel or soil piles
- Mines or wells
Because these conditions can be attractive and dangerous to children, it is important for landowners to take care to make them safer. The attractive nuisance doctrine only applies to artificial conditions, even if the property owner did not create the condition.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, a landowner can be held liable for a child’s injuries if:
- The owner knows, or has reason to know, that a dangerous condition exists on their property.
- This condition is in a place where the landowner knows, or should know, may be accessed by children.
- The child is unaware of the dangers because of their young age.
- The burden of removing the danger is far less to the owner than the risk of injury is to children.
- The landowner fails to take steps to secure or increase the safety of the condition.
How Can I Minimize the Risk of Liability?
As a property owner, it is likely that you will want to prevent accidents from occurring and protect yourself from being held legally liable for the injuries of trespassers. You can minimize your liability by taking some simple precautions.
Steps to Minimize Liability:
- Ensure that your property follows all state and local regulations and ordinances, including all attractive nuisance codes.
- Always store all power tools, manual tools, ladders, and other equipment when not in use. A locked storage shed or fully fenced yard is a good option.
- Fence any pool or spa areas securely, and use self-latching gates.
- Place strong fences around hazardous areas and keep the gates locked.
- Remove the doors from any discarded appliances or containers.
- Warn adult neighbors of any dangerous conditions on your property, so they can advise their children of the danger.
While you cannot completely eliminate your liability as a property owner, you can greatly minimize the risks. You may wish to consult a personal injury attorney to learn what other steps you can take to protect yourself and the children of your community.
If you or your loved one has been injured by another’s negligence, our Dunedin personal injury attorneys are prepared to assist you. At Paulsen Law Group, we have the experience and the knowledge to help you protect your interests and to protect your case. Schedule a free case evaluation today to discuss your claim with our legal team.
Contact our offices today by calling (727) 270-8260.