Personal injury claims can be complicated and court decisions are based on varying statutes and case law. “Attractive nuisance” is one area of personal injury liability that has raised a number of questions for courts. The attractive nuisance doctrine was developed to protect children who may trespass onto property without appreciating risks.
Under the attractive nuisance doctrine, landowners can be held liable to children trespassing on the land if they suffer an injury caused by a known and hazardous condition or object. “Attractive” generally means that children may use the object or conditions for play, including swimming pools, open pits, or an abandoned refrigerator. The doctrine is supposed to ensure that premises are maintained and owners are held liable to prevent injury to children.
While historically cases have involved trespassers, a recent decision by the Colorado Supreme Court is allowing the doctrine to be applied in a case involving a child who was an “invitee” rather than a trespasser. Our New York premises liability attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of victims who have suffered an injury because of failed maintenance or dangerous property conditions. In addition to protecting the rights of the injured, we are also abreast of developments in this area of the law in New York and nationwide.
In S.W. v. Towers Boat Club, Inc., presented before the Colorado Supreme Court, an 11-year-old boy attended a private party at a private boat club. While the plaintiff and two other children were playing on an inflatable bungee run, a gust of wind hurled the structure between 15 and 75 feet in the air and 100 to 200 yards across the property. As a result of the accident, the 11-year-old plaintiff suffered from traumatic brain injuries, brain hemorrhage, a fractured leg, and numerous fractures in his right arm. His parents brought a premises liability claim against the manufacturer of the bungee run, the landowner, and the boat club operator. The parents of the injured child agreed to settle with the bungee run manufacturer and the boat club operator. The question for the court involved the liability of the landowner.
The parents of the injured boy filed three claims, including premises liability, negligence and attractive nuisance. The court granted summary judgment, dismissing the premises liability and negligence claims finding that the operators were licensed and that the owners did not breach a duty. The question for the Supreme Court was whether, under Colorado premises liability statutes, the attractive nuisance doctrine applied to trespassing children or to children who were licensed or invited onto the premises. The court then held that the doctrine applies to all children, regardless of whether they trespassed onto the property or if they were invited.
The application of the attractive nuisance doctrine to a landowner who otherwise met standards of care, opens up the possibility for similar cases to be brought against any landlord who has children on their property. Where the attractive nuisance doctrine was once an exception to protect child trespassers, it could potentially be used to protect any child while playing on or near a hazardous condition.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
More Blog Entries:
Queens Car Accident Injuries Caused by Distracted Parents, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, December 20, 2013
Too Fast and Furious: Excessive Speed to Blame in Fatal Car Crash, New York Injury Lawyer Blog, December 12, 2013