Common Principles of Premise Liability
Premise liability is the legal principle that holds property owners, occupiers, and even renters accountable for any injuries or harm sustained by another person on their premises. These cases are ruled by the notion of negligence, and whether or not the owner or occupier demonstrated such negligence that caused unintentional harm to another person. A property owner has a certain duty of care to take reasonable action to maintain safe and hazard-free premises. But if a person trespasses onto anothers property and sustains an injury, the property owner is not liable. In the past, even child trespassers injured on private property were owed no duty of care by the premise owners. Modernly, this is not the case anymore.
The Attractive Nuisance Ordinance
If something is so enticing to a child that it motivates them to enter onto another person’s property, it is considered an attractive nuisance. Things like trampolines, swimming pools, tree houses, ponds, creeks, boat docks, construction equipment, heavy machinery, power tools, holes, wells, tunnels, exotic animals, staircases, junk cars, lumber piles, fire pits, sand dunes, low roof tops, and more are examples of attractive nuisances. Under modern law, property owners must retain a duty of care by keeping safe premises in the case of trespassing children. This is called the attractive nuisance ordinance, and is an exception to premise liability law.Since modern law no longer expects children to understand what it means to trespass, and not appreciate the dangers it could involve, property owners have a special legal responsibility to make sure their premise is safe for kids that might enter their property unexpectedly. Property owners and occupiers are legally obligated to practice this special responsibility if they believe their premises might attract the interest of children, and is accessible by children.
If property owners, occupiers, or renters fail to meet this duty of care, they can be held liable for any injuries sustained on their property to children. Of course, courts also take into consideration a child’s age and intellectual capacity in order to determine whether or not they could understand the potential risk of injury on a person’s property. For example, if a person is digging an open pit in their backyard for a new swimming pool and hangs a sign that says “DANGER DO NOT ENTER”, they can still be held liable if a young child who cannot read enters their property and falls into the pit. On the other end of the spectrum, if a teenager with no mental handicaps enters the same property and sustains injuries, the owners may not be held liable for their damages.
For more details about attractive nuisances, premise liability, and child injury claims, consult a personal injury lawyer for trusted information and advice.