Normally, property owners only have a duty of care toward people invited onto their premises. For homeowners, they have a duty to keep their houses safe for guests. Businesses must maintain a secure environment for customers. When property owners fail to inspect their premises, fix hazards that arise, or warn about less-than-obvious dangers and someone gets hurt, they could be considered negligent. Property owners do not have the same duty toward trespassers. People who come onto other individual’s or business’s property without permission do so at their own risk. However, there is a serious exception under Florida law regarding children. If a child was hurt on your property, you may be held responsible under theattractive nuisance doctrine. Contact a Florida legal representative at Oldham & Smith right away to learn about your rights and how you can defend yourself against a lawsuit.
Florida’s Attractive Nuisance Law
Children are often drawn to interesting things like pools or machinery. Anything that looks fun to explore, climb on, or swim in can bring children onto land they have not been given permission to be on. However, because they are young and experienced, children cannot understand the dangers of playing on or near these items. This lack of comprehension and potential for injury or death is why Florida places a duty on property owners to protect children against attractive nuisances. All property owners are legally required to guard children againstdangerous conditions on their property that may attract children, including old appliances, vehicles, large machines, lawn mowers and tractors, power tools, pools, fountains, and trampolines.
The Deciding Six Factors
In order for a property owner to be held liable under Florida’s attractive nuisance law, the court will look at the follow factors:
- Whether the item was in a place where the property owner know or should have known children were likely to trespass
- Whether the item actually attracted the injured child onto the property
- Whether the property owner knew or should have known the item poses an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to children
- Whether the child, because of his or her age, did not realize the danger of the item
- Whether the items benefit to the property owner was small compared to the risk to children
- Whether property owner did not take reasonable steps to remove the danger or protect children
When the court is deciding these issues, there is no specific age cut off for when a child did or did not understand the potential dangers of playing on the item. The court will look at the child’s age, knowledge, experience, and overall understanding. It may also be relevant to know whether the child could read and understand any warning signs posted on the property or item that led to his or her injury.
Contact a Florida Premise Liability Attorney for Help
You are not always responsible for a trespassing child’s injuries. If one of the six factors for the attractive nuisance doctrine is not present, then you are not liable for the child’s injuries or death. There are many ways to defend against a suit based on attractive nuisance. It takes an experienced Florida lawyer to analyze your situation compared to the law and build a strong defense.
To schedule a consultation, contact Oldham & Smith at (352) 292-1620.