If your minor child got hurt on a dangerous condition on someone else’s land when the child did not have the property owner’s permission to be there, you might be wondering if the owner is liable for your child’s injuries. The outcome will depend on several factors.
Usually, a landowner has no duty to keep trespassers safe from harm, as long as the owner or possessor does not inflict willful or wanton injury on the trespasser, but the rules change when the trespasser is a child. O.C.G.A. § 51-3-3 protects children when they get hurt on “attractive nuisances” on someone else’s property, even if the child is trespassing.
Things That Can Be Attractive Nuisances
Things that attract children to come onto someone’s property to explore or play on the item usually fall within the category of attractive nuisances, if the item in question is inherently dangerous. The law understands that children are, by nature, curious and playful. They do not have the experience and maturity of adults when it comes to making wise decisions and value judgments. Kids do not always realize that they could get hurt severely or killed.
Swimming pools and trampolines are examples of attractive nuisances. Dangerous animals, wells, and machinery can be attractive nuisances. A natural feature like a lake is usually not an attractive nuisance.
Elements of an Attractive Nuisance
We will have to prove all of these factors to hold the landowner responsible for injuries caused by an attractive nuisance:
- The landowner or possessor is aware that there is an attractive nuisance and that children might trespass to get to the feature.
- The landowner or possessor knows or should know that the attractive nuisance creates an unreasonable risk of severe harm or death to children who are on the property without permission.
- Children will not appreciate the danger of the attractive nuisance because of their young age.
- The landowner could take reasonable steps to protect children or get rid of the attractive nuisance at a cost that is far less than the danger of harm to the kids.
- Despite the available option, the landowner fails to take the reasonable steps to protect children from harm and a trespassing child gets by the attractive nuisance.
An example of a reasonable step to protect children from an attractive nuisance could be adequate fencing with locked gates around a swimming pool or trampoline. If there is an abandoned dry well on the property, the owner could fill in the well or prevent access to the well with a secure, locked cover.
What to Do if Your Child Gets Hurt on Someone Else’s Property When Trespassing
The steps you should take will depend on the facts of your case. You should always be sensible when deciding what actions to take when your child sustains an injury.
Here are some suggestions to help you decide what to do to protect your child’s health and right to compensation:
Get Medical Help
Your child’s safety comes first. Take her for medical care right away. Children are not always the best at communicating where they hurt or how severe the harm might be. Have the professionals at the emergency room, urgent care center, or doctor’s office, whichever option is appropriate under the circumstances, examine your child for injuries and treat the harm they find.
The medical records will tie the injury to the accident, so make sure that you and your child are candid with the medical personnel about how the incident happened. Sometimes people want to protect their children from getting into trouble, so they do not reveal all the facts, like where the injury took place. This tactic could backfire when the landowner gets the records and the papers show that you or your child told a different account of what happened.
Talk to a Lawyer
Attractive nuisance cases can be challenging. The landowner might deny liability because the child was trespassing, so it might be difficult to sue for injury. It can be hard to prove all five elements of attractive nuisance. The landowner’s property insurance company will probably defend him in the claim. Most people do not want to tackle a multi-billion-dollar insurance company on their own.
At S. Burke Law, we deal with insurance companies every day. We will work hard to get you and your family all the compensation you deserve. You can focus on helping your child get better while we take care of your legal matters.
Getting Legal Help Without Upfront Legal Fees
We handle personal injury cases on a contingent fee basis. This arrangement makes it possible for you to have a lawyer work on your case without any upfront legal fees. Our fees will come out of the settlement proceeds or award at the end of the matter.
Call us today at 404-842-7838 to get started. There is no obligation.