The issue of who is responsible for the safety of those who enter on to a property has been detailed on this blog in the past. Property owners are usually only assigned a duty of care to those that are invited on to their land. That is because you, as an adult in Dunedin, are assumed to know which features of a property are potentially dangerous. Yet what about your kids? Is the same standard applied to them?
A legal principle exists known as “the attractive nuisance doctrine.” It maintains that children (particularly young children) do not have the comprehension needed to pick up on the risks that attractive property features present. Thus, if your child is injured by or through the use of any of these attractive nuisances (e.g., swimming pools, construction sites, abandoned buildings), the owners of the properties on which they are found are liable. This is true even if your child is on another’s property without permission.
Per the Florida Bar, the state’s Civil Jury Instructions show that the following elements must be present if you are to assign liability to a property owner under the attractive nuisance doctrine:
- That the party in question owned land on which a structure or artificial condition was located in a place where it was known (or should have been known) that children might be
- That the structure or condition presented an unreasonable risk of death or serious harm that children (due to their age) would likely not comprehend
- That the property owner knew of the risk
- That your child did indeed not understand the risk
Typically, the only defense to accusations of negligence under the attractive nuisance doctrine is that a property owner took noticeable steps to keep children away from whatever dangerous attractions were on their property.