The average child often lacks the experience and judgment to avoid dangerous situations, especially when unsupervised. However, we have to balance their growth and independence with our desire to keep them safe, which can, unfortunately, lead to accidents.
No parent wants to receive the news that their child has been injured. Not only is it terrifying, but it can be overwhelming trying to decide what to do next. If your child has been injured on someone else’s property, you need someone on your side who can help you understand your options.
The Basics of Premises Liability Cases
Property owners have a legal obligation to ensure that their property is safe for any guests, visitors, or customers. This obligation requires them to take reasonable care in maintaining the property to identify and correct any hazardous conditions. It also requires that they warn visitors of any such conditions in the event that they cannot repair or address it. As part of this obligation, property owners are generally required to regularly inspect their property to make sure it is free from any such hazards. Here are some examples of how a property owner may exercise their duty of care:
- Posting “Wet Floor” signs in the lobby after mopping
- Shoveling snow on the sidewalk and treating any ice
- Repairing a broken staircase; closing the staircase until it can be repaired
- Posting a sign warning visitors of a potential trip hazard (“Watch Your Step”)
When a property owner fails to exercise their duty of care, they may be held liable for any injuries or other losses that are caused by any hazards on their property. This applies to cases involving both adults and children.
Children and the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
When a child is injured on another person’s property, it is often because they should not have been there in the first place. As a general rule, property owners cannot be held liable for an injury suffered by someone trespassing on their property. Thankfully, there is a very important exception that applies to children – the attractive nuisance doctrine.
The attractive nuisance doctrine requires property owners to take steps to prevent injury to trespassing children if their property contains or constitutes an attractive nuisance.
Under Georgia law, attractive nuisances are defined as “inherently dangerous instrumentalities, which are attractive to children.” To put it another way, an attractive nuisance is anything that one would reasonably expect to be attractive to children to play on, such as the following:
- Unattended swimming pools, ponds, or other bodies of water
- Ladders or other structures that can be climbed on
- Old machinery
- Abandoned buildings
- Tunnels, wells, or deep pits
The attractive nuisance doctrine holds a property owner liable if a child is injured and the following factors are met:
- The owner knew or had reason to know that children were likely to trespass on his property;
- The owner knew or had reason to know that the condition on his property presents an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to children;
- Children would not know about or appreciate the risk present on the property;
- The burden of removing the danger is slight compared to the risk presented to children; and
- The owner failed to exercise reasonable care to address the danger or otherwise protect potential child trespassers.
This sounds very straight-forward, but can actually be very complicated when determining whether a property owner should be held liable for a child’s injury. An experienced premises liability attorney can help you determine whether you have a claim against the owner of the property where your child was injured.
Call Slappey & Sadd – Atlanta Premises Liability and Child Injury Lawyers
Founded in 1992, the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd have helped thousands of injury victims across the state of Georgia. If your child was injured on another person’s property, we can help you get the compensation you need. Contact us today at 888-474-9616 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.