One thing is clear: property owners must take reasonable steps to protect children from hazards and warn people of potentially dangerous conditions.
An attractive nuisance is a dangerous condition on a landowner’s property that may mainly attract children onto the land and pose a risk to their safety. Today, let’s discuss Indiana’s attractive nuisance laws and what property owners should know.
How Do Attractive Nuisances Occur?
Most accidents involving attractive nuisances occur when children who do not know better get too close to an object or place and suffer injuries because of curiosity. These accidents might result in criminal charges if a child trespasses or civil liability if the property owner did not take reasonable steps to keep the area safe for children.
Criminal Charges for Trespassing in Indiana?
In Indiana, a child of any age can be charged with trespassing when they accidentally enter someone else’s property and get hurt, especially if the property owner has put up a “No Trespassing” sign. Criminal trespass involves being on someone else’s property without permission. According to Indiana laws, children under 18 arrested or who break the law will have their case in juvenile court.
Civil Liability for Injuries
According to an Indianapolis personal injury lawyer, a civil liability suit is more likely if the child does not realize that they are trespassing or does not understand the warning signs. As in most states, Indiana enforces premises liability laws. It means that a property owner is liable for a child’s injuries, damages, or death if the accident occurred due to unsafe property conditions.
A child engaged in play does not have any special responsibility for their safety. A child has the same legal rights as an adult when an attractive nuisance incident leads to their injuries. For example, suppose a child suffers an injury in an uncovered swimming pool or an unsupervised playground. In that case, they will be entitled to recover damages from the property owner in Indiana, just like adults do.
Examples of Attractive Nuisance Situations
Swimming pools on a homeowner’s property are the leading example of an attractive nuisance.
A homeowner can be held responsible for children’s injuries caused by an unattended swimming pool in the backyard. Suppose a neighbor’s pool is left unlocked. The neighbor will be liable for injuries if children use the pool. The law assumes that pool owners know about dangerous conditions related to their swimming pool. If they fail to take reasonable steps to protect children from it, families can sue the owners and most likely win compensatory damages or wrongful death lawsuits.
Swimming pool with ladder and yellow border; image by Etienne Girardet, via Unsplash.com.Another example of an attractive nuisance is a hole in a fence that allows children to cross property without permission. Suppose a child suffers injuries while passing through the hole and suffers injuries. In that case, the property owner will often be liable for the injuries because they knew about the dangerous condition but failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from it.
Other attractive nuisances in Indiana include:
Piles of lumber, gravel, or sand.
Fire pits surrounded by sharp rocks.
Underground wells without proper covers.
Unsupervised attractive backyard games or playgrounds.
This list is not exhaustive: property owners must be wary of the dangers leading to attractive nuisance lawsuits.
What Are the Responsibilities of the Landowner?
A property owner must not create an “attractive nuisance.” However, a property owner is not always liable for the injury or death that results from an attractive nuisance. The surefire way to understand your rights as an injured child’s parent or a landowner is to consult with a personal injury attorney.
One thing is clear: property owners must take reasonable steps to protect children from hazards and warn people of potentially dangerous conditions. Ordinarily, this means keeping your swimming pool fenced and locked so that children cannot access it. It also means keeping your pool gate locked and warning any responsible adults of the danger posed by unfenced pools on residential properties.
In addition, a property owner can be liable if they leave dangerous equipment or materials on their property and a child suffers injuries. It includes things like playground equipment that is not maintained correctly and electronic games left in a place where children are likely to play with them. Hazardous materials, garden tools, pesticides, landscaping equipment, debris, construction materials, etc., can also offer grounds for a personal injury lawsuit.
In Indiana, you can be held liable for injuries you knew about the existence of dangerous conditions on your property and failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from them. If you are not sure what you need to do to avoid legal issues, always consult with an attorney.
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