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Are Child Trespassers Treated Differently in Premises Liability Claims?

Posted on behalf of Phillips Law Group on Nov 30, 2020 in Personal Injury

trespassing sign attached to fenceOften, children do not understand why something is dangerous until someone else gets injured or they suffer an injury themselves. Their lack of understanding may cause them to make bad decisions that put themselves or others in danger.

Arizona law recognizes children often do not use good judgment about potentially dangerous situations. Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, property owners have an obligation to help protect children from danger, even if they were trespassing.

Was your child injured on someone else’s property, such as in a swimming pool accident or another accident involving something that was likely to attract children? There may be grounds for a premises liability claim under the attractive nuisance doctrine.

Phillips Law Group’s Phoenix premises liability attorneys have in-depth knowledge of Arizona laws governing these types of cases. We have a proven track record of recovering compensation for those injured due to another’s negligence.

Premises Liability Claims Involving Trespassers

Generally, property owners do not owe trespassers much of a duty of care. They usually do not need to do much to try to prevent a trespasser from getting hurt. This is because trespassers do not have a legal right to be on the property.

A property owner could potentially be held liable for an injury to a trespasser if he or she willfully or maliciously caused injury to the trespasser.

However, if the trespasser was a child, the property owner may owe the child much more care to try to prevent an injury from occurring.

What is an Attractive Nuisance?

There are certain features on a property that are likely to attract children, such as:

  • Swimming pools
  • Trampolines
  • Tree houses
  • Tunnels
  • Wells
  • Fountains
  • Scaffolding
  • Ladders
  • Stairs
  • Rooftop that is easily accessible

These could be considered attractive nuisances if your lawyer can prove they are likely to attract children and there is a potential for injury.

The property owner may have had a duty to do something to try to prevent children from gaining access to the nuisance. For example, putting a fence around a swimming pool or a sign warning of the danger of climbing on a ladder may protect a property owner from liability if a child trespasses and suffers an injury.

There are other types of nuisances that are unlikely to be considered attractive nuisances, legally speaking:

  • Ponds
  • Lakes
  • Hills
  • Cliffs
  • Tress
  • Choking hazards, like acorns or sticks
  • Hot water
  • Poison
  • Sharp objects
  • Fire

Building an Attractive Nuisance Claim

There are several things your attorney may need to establish to prove a property owner is liable for an injury involving a child and an attractive nuisance:

  • The property owner knew or should have known children would be attracted to the property and were likely to trespass
  • The property owner knows or should know the condition poses an unreasonable risk of harm to child who may trespass
  • Children do not understand the potential risks of the condition in question
  • It would not have been prohibitively expensive to take steps to prevent accidents
  • The property owner did not use reasonable care to prevent injury
  • Your child suffered an injury because of the nuisance in question

Defining Reasonable Care

Each case is unique, so it is difficult to determine what it would mean for a property owner to take reasonable care to prevent an injury from an attractive nuisance. However, reasonable care often amounts to good judgment based on the situation.

For example, building a fence around a pool and installing floodlights or an alarm system could all be considered reasonable steps. Locking up dangerous chemicals or other objects could also be considered reasonable. Potentially dangerous animals should be leashed or locked up.

While some property owners may think a sign will shield them from liability, this may not be true. A sign by itself may not be enough – the property owner may need to prove he or she did something else to keep children away from the attractive nuisance.

If a fence or floodlights fall into disrepair and do not work when a child trespasses, the property owner may be held liable for any injuries that result. It is reasonable to expect a property owner to inspect a fence or lights to be sure they work.

Have Questions About Your Claim? Give Us a Call

If you need assistance after an accident on another’s property, Phillips Law Group is here to help. We have been representing personal injury victims in Arizona for nearly 30 years and have a proven record of success.

The initial consultation comes with no cost and there are no upfront fees for our services unless we obtain compensation on your behalf.

Need Legal Assistance? Call Phillips Law Group Today: 1-800-706-3000

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