Are Landowners Responsible for Injuries to Children?

Finding out a child has been injured or killed while playing around the neighborhood is a nightmare for every parent. But what happens to a property owner who knows that their property is no place for children to play yet does nothing to minimize the danger? In Florida, parents of injured children can file a claim against the property owner's insurance and, if necessary, sue them in a civil trial for damages.

Boy with knee injury after falling off to bicycle

What is an Attractive Nuisance?

Because children are naturally adventurous, there have historically been many incidents where they have been trapped while hiding in abandoned appliances. There are statutory laws on the books to prevent property owners from storing hazardous appliances on their unsecured property. Under FSS 823.08, attractive nuisances are “abandoned or discarded iceboxes, refrigerators, deep-freeze lockers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, or similar airtight units from which the doors have not been removed.” Public and residential swimming pools can also be considered attractive nuisances in Florida, and property owners must follow the respective laws concerning swimming pools.

What are the Basic Elements of an Attractive Nuisance?

“Attractive nuisance” is a legal term used by personal injury lawyers to describe the type of hazard that might entice minors. In order to be able to take legal action against a property owner who has a hazardous item or situation on their premise, you must show that they failed to take precautions to prevent minors from entering the property. Under Florida law, landowners usually don't owe a duty of care to an adult trespasser. However, when the victim is a minor, the courts follow the attractive nuisance doctrine.

What to Do if Your Child is Injured on Another Individual's Property

The first priority with any injury to your child is to get medical attention immediately. Try to get a detailed account of the incident from your child and ask if anyone else was with them when it happened. If you're able to, get pictures of any attractive nuisances on the property as well as images from the property boundaries demonstrating the visibility of the injury location. Contact a personal injury attorney at your earliest convenience. You can get a free, no-obligation consultation through Weinstein Legal in Broward, Palm Beach, or Orange County. Our staff has extensive experience in premise liability law.

What are the Defenses of a Landowner for Children Injured on Their Property?

Most liability claims will go through an insurance company and its legal team. These attorneys will try to limit damages in every way they can. Some of the common defenses include the following:

  • The property was secured, and the victim had to breach these security features to gain access. Common security features include fencing, closed-circuit security cameras, barbed wire, and private security guards.
  • The property owner posted “No Trespassing” signs.
  • A reasonable person would not consider the hazard an attractive nuisance.
  • The parents or guardians of the minor child had the primary responsibility of keeping them away from the property.

If you are the parents of an injured child, you will need to establish the following for your claim to be acknowledged by the insurance company or the courts:

  • The property owner had a duty of care to keep the property safe
  • The property owner failed to live up to that duty of care by allowing a hazardous condition to exist.
  • Your child was injured on the property.

The court will often take the age and mental capacity of the child into consideration. For example, a fully functional teenager has a better ability to understand the implications of a “no trespass” sign than a child of seven or eight years of age.

What if the Danger Cannot Be Seen From the Property Boundaries?

Cases where an attractive nuisance is not easily visible from the bounds of the property may still be actionable. Your personal injury attorney will examine the following factors. Was the property boundary clearly delineated with a fence and proper signage? Was there signage indicating that there might be an attractive nuisance inside the body, like an arrow pointing out the path to a pool? If there were known dangers, did the property owner indicate that the property was dangerous, or did they just post “no trespass” signs?

Should I Contact a Lawyer?

If your child has been injured due to an attractive nuisance in the Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, or Orlando areas, contact Weinstein Legal to discuss your claim. If you aren't in Orange, Broward, or Palm Beach counties, you can search for a personal injury lawyer near me to discuss your claim. Most accident attorneys work on a contingency basis, so you can talk to them without paying a retainer. At the Weinstein Legal Team, you don't pay out-of-pocket for our legal representation. Our fees are contingent on your getting a settlement or court award. Call today to talk to a member of our premise liability team.

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