Unlike adults, children do not always have the capability of evaluating a situation for potential dangers. For this reason, kids are typically not held accountable for the cause of their injuries, but are instead reliant on others to ensure an environment is made safe for them. All property owners, whether commercial or private, have some sort of responsibility to provide and maintaining a reasonably safe property. If your child is injured on another person’s property, make sure you know your legal rights and how to protect your child.
According to the attractive nuisance doctrine, children have the rights of visitors in most situations, even if they are intruding. Any property may be deemed attractive to kids, who view nearly everything, dangerous or not, as a plaything. With this in mind, children, especially babies and toddlers, are typically considered incapable of comprehending the potential dangers of trespassing. In order to allow for the immaturity of children, property owners are expected to show care to eliminate potential dangers and maintain safe grounds in the event that a child should trespass.
Curious by nature, children are prone to wandering and may sometimes stumble upon hazardous settings in homes, schools, businesses, or other grounds.
Children may wander anywhere, and can potentially be injured by:
- Construction sites
- Abandoned buildings
- Abandoned cars
- Swimming pools
- Dangerous animals
The attractive nuisance doctrine charges adults with the responsibility of discerning whether or not children may reasonably be injured on their property. If children could potentially trespass into a certain building or area, it is the responsibility of that owner to ensure it is safe. For example, if a property contains an empty swimming pool, it is the owner’s responsibility to gate the pool off in order to prevent children from accidentally wandering over and falling in or otherwise injuring themselves.
While this rule typically applies to children who may not otherwise know better, the attractive nuisance doctrine may apply to a number of adolescent age groups, including teenagers. Whether or not this doctrine could be applicable depends on the circumstances of each individual case. If a property owner showed care to try to prevent children from trespassing or attempted to eliminate a potential danger but an older child intentionally avoided these warnings, the child may be liable, not the owner.
Due to the case-by-case nature of this doctrine, it is always a good idea to seek the professional help of a personal injury attorney in the event that your child is injured on another’s property. Whether your child was harmed on a broken school playground or while wandering into a neighbor’s dangerous yard, you may have a personal injury case.
Contact Caputo & Van Der Walde LLP for a free case review with our Northern California personal injury attorneys.