Kids will be kids. They have no knowledge of premises liability, and chances are if they did know they wouldn’t much care about it anyway. What is your liability when a child trespasses on your property? Do the same rules regarding premises liability hold for adults and children? The short answer is not really.
Adults and Premises Liability
Under Florida law, when an adult trespasses on your property, you cannot be held liable for injuries suffered by the perpetrator. Generally speaking, if he or she gets injured while on your property, it is not your fault, if trespass is involved. This is true unless you were to cause injury to the trespasser with a willful or wanton act.
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
Kids love to explore, and sometimes their explorations take them into places they should not go. They may enter a place on a dare, on a whim or out of curiosity. Regardless of their reasons, if they have not been invited onto the property, they are trespassing. If there is a dangerous situation on the property that attracts curious children, the landowner can be held responsible.
The Attractive Nuisance Doctrine, in essence, holds that children of tender age do not have the ability or maturity to determine when a situation or circumstance could be dangerous. Keep in mind in some courts, this can apply to teens as well as toddlers. Therefore, if something attracts kids to your property and you have not taken precautions to secure it so children cannot come near, you can be held liable if a child is hurt as a result.
Examples of Attractive Nuisance
You may be imagining some seriously dangerous circumstance, however, a ten-foot-deep hole in the ground isn’t the only dangerous situation for a child. An unsecured swimming pool is also a hazard. If the neighborhood kids decide to take a swim while you are gone and someone gets hurt or drowns, you could be held liable.
If you have a dangerous animal that could hurt a child, this is a liability. Your guard dog may not understand that a child is not a real threat; however, you do, and if a child should wander into your yard and get bitten by the dog, you may get sued.
Other examples include machinery, such as lawnmowers, gasoline pumps or any other type of equipment that could hurt a child. Wells and tunnels on your property are also considered attractive nuisances. Even paths, stairs and fountains can be problematic.
Your best protection against child trespassers and premises liability is common sense and good judgment. Follow the laws governing the regulations for things like swimming pools. If you see kids attracted to something on your property that could lead to injury, fence it in, lock it up, do all you can to eliminate the danger to a curious child.
The law firm of Frohlich, Gordon & Beason, P.A., handles business litigation and personal injury cases. Our expertise in these areas is excellent, and we provide our clients with high quality, personalized legal services. Contact us through our website or call to schedule an appointment for a complimentary consultation. We have offices conveniently located in North Port, Englewood and Port Charlotte to accommodate southwest Florida residents.