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Duties & Liabilities to Children in Premises Liability Cases

A landowner holds different duties of care when it comes to individuals coming onto his or her property, and this duty can vary depending on the classification for the individual. One special classification involves children. The duties and liabilities the property owner holds are greater for minors than the average adult entrant onto the property.

Liability in Children Versus Adults

When it comes to premises liability cases, children receive a greater standard of care than adults. Many times, the degree of care that is given to the children depends on that child’s age and the ability that the child has to foresee certain perils before him or her. The younger the child, the higher the level of care. In addition, the way the child entered the property can also affect the duty and liability of the landowner; for example, if the child was an invitee, licensee, or a trespasser.

Trespassing Child

Generally, if there is a child trespassing onto a landowner’s property, the liability depends on a number of factors, including:

  • The failure of the landowner to take reasonable care against what is known as foreseeable conduct of the child; and
  • Balancing social policy of allowing the landowner to be able to use his or her own property in a way against general concern for the welfare of children.

If an adult is trespassing onto the property they are typically held responsible for his or her own injuries, but if that trespasser is a child, it is assumed that the child does not have the knowledge and ability to process information to protect that child’s safety and well-being.

Attractive Nuisance Doctrine

Because children can be so curious and often less careful than adults, certain situations that adults may avoid become an opportunity to play and explore for children. This is where the doctrine of attractive nuisance comes into play. If a landowner has items on the property that would attract children and potentially harm them, the landowner has a duty to ensure that children who come onto the property are protected. If the landowner has reason to believe children might come onto the property, he or she has a special responsibility to prevent them harm. If the landowner fails to meet this duty, he or she can be held liable for injuries resulting to the child. Essentially, this common law principle holds property owners responsible for accidents and injuries on their property caused by the presence of an object that is understandably “attractive” to children such as refrigerators and freezers, washers and dryers, swimming pools, fountains, trampolines, power tools and abandoned vehicles.

Responsibility of Parents

Should it all be up to the landowner to ensure that a child does not get injured while on the property? While, yes, the landowner does hold a duty of care in ensuring that the child does not get hurt or injured while on the property, the parents have responsibility for the child, as well. It is the duty of the parents to make sure that their child’s behavior does not present a danger to himself or herself.  It may not completely eliminate the property owner’s duty, but it could reduce it based on Florida’s rule of comparative fault.

Our Miami child injury attorneys are dedicated to keeping children safe by holding manufacturers, schools, operators of amusement activities, governmental entities, etc. responsible for the injuries that their negligence causes.  When you enter onto an individual’s or business owner’s property, even for a moment, the law generally finds that you have a reasonable expectation to not suffer unforeseen injury. If you have suffered injuries as a result of a business or property owner’s negligence, you have the right to pursue financial compensation. Our firm represents injured clients who not only seek financial compensation but more importantly, justice.  The practice of personal injury law is our calling. We are a firm of high-profile, nationally recognized legal advocates who work for you, our client, never big business. Spencer Aronfeld is a Board Certified Trial Lawyer and our firm, Aronfeld Trial Lawyers has successfully represented people and their families in premises liability claims across the country since 1991.   Call us today for a free initial consultation 1-866-597-4529 or email newcase@aronfeld.com and speak with a Miami premises liability lawyer about your potential claim. Our attorneys and support staff are well versed in premises liability law and are available to speak with you 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.