In the state of Florida, property owners have a duty to protect the people they invite onto their property. But what about when it comes to those who are trespassing? The law may be a little more complicated than you think.
In certain circumstances, a property owner can be held liable for the injuries of a trespasser, especially if that trespasser is a child. The law this falls under is Florida’s attractive nuisance doctrine, which is a doctrine that everyone who owns property in Florida should have in their awareness.
Here is what you need to know about the attractive nuisance doctrine in the state, the potential dangers to look out for, and what it means for you if a young trespasser is injured on your property.
Attractive Nuisance: How Is It Defined?
Attractive nuisances are things on your property that entice or lure a child to your property to commit trespass. These items often pose a risk to a person. Understanding the types of things that can be considered an “attractive nuisance” can help to keep everyone around you safe.
Common items that are considered to be attractive nuisances include:
- Swimming pools
- Play places
- Old appliances
Basically, these items are anything that can attract someone to your property. In situations where premises liability is an issue, owners of the property have to work to keep it safe for anyone who may come by – whether or not they are invited. The first step in accomplishing this is to make sure that the things considered to be attractive nuisances on your property don’t pose a risk to anyone. You should take precautions to keep people safe.
Typically, the law doesn’t provide those who trespass with many rights in premises liability cases. However, that’s not true in cases that involve children and attractive nuisances, because children are not seen as negligent in the same way that an adult would be. Children may wander onto someone’s property because of an attractive nuisance, and you may be liable if something happens to them because of it.
How Do You Know If You’re Responsible?
If a child is injured on your property due to an attractive nuisance, then it’s important to secure an experienced attorney to help you with your case. In general, the attractive nuisance doctrine in Florida applies to cases where a child is involved and:
- The property owner knew or should have reasonably known that an attractive nuisance existed on their property
- The child who was injured was aware – or not aware – of the dangers presented by the attractive nuisance
- A burden would have been placed on the property owner in removing the danger versus the risk it presented
- The owner of the property attempted to mitigate the nuisance by taking steps to protect children from it or remove it
Attractive nuisance claims are complex, and an experienced attorney can help you to navigate the ins and outs of these cases. Even if you’re not currently involved in a case involving an attractive nuisance, it’s a good idea to do what you can to assess your property for dangers or nuisances.
Then, take real steps to protect those around you who could wander onto your premises, like small children. That is your responsibility under the law, and it’s something that should be taken very seriously by every property owner in the state of Florida.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and named one of America’s Top 100 High-Stakes Litigators. Mr. Winston is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2021 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite,” recognized by Expertise as one of the 20 Best Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorneys, named one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015-2021, and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida for 2015-2017 and 2019-2021.