In order to prove negligence, it is necessary to demonstrate that the defendant owed a duty of care to the injured individual. In the case of premises liability cases, trespassers generally are not owed a duty of care since they are not present on the property legally. However, one possible exception to this is if the trespasser was a child and the property owner had reason to believe there was a risk of child trespassers. This is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine.
Elements of the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
The following must apply in order for this doctrine to be relevant:
- The owner of the premises knew or should have known that children would be likely to trespass in the area.
- This individual also knew or should have known that the property posed an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury.
- Because of their youth, children who enter the premises do not understand the risk involved or that potentially dangerous conditions exist on the property.
- The effort to maintain the property and eliminate the danger is small compared to the potential risk to children.
- The property owner did not exercise reasonable care in attempting to keep the area safe or otherwise protect children who may enter.
Various Arizona courts have set the precedent that an attractive nuisance must be manmade, and natural objects that were not placed there by the property owner do not fall under this law.
In most cases, teenagers are not viewed as children and would be expected to know the potential dangers of trespassing. However, this is not always the case and individual courts may apply the attractive nuisance doctrine to teenagers, depending on the circumstances.
Examples of Attractive Nuisances
One of the most common examples of an attractive nuisance is a swimming pool. Both commercial and personal pools can attract children and property owners may be held liable if they did not take reasonable steps to keep the area secure. The attractive nuisance doctrine is more likely to apply in areas where many young children are known to play or if a pool was completely in the open with no gates or cover. Other attractive nuisances include ladders, septic tanks, playground equipment, trampolines, unsecured animals, discarded appliances, and more.
A possible defense against liability in an attractive nuisance case is if the property owner demonstrates that an adult was supervising the child while they were trespassing. In this case, the adult should have stopped the child from entering the potentially dangerous area. The defendant may also demonstrate that the child had to go to extraordinary lengths to reach the danger. In these cases, the defendant can show that they took reasonable precautions and could not have anticipated the child would be exposed to any risk.
Personal Injury Lawyers for Premises Liability Cases
If your child was injured due to a negligent property owner, our lawyers can help. Our team will go over the details of your case. We are compassionate, experienced, and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.