Under Georgia law, and the law of most states, an owner or occupier of property must exercise some level of care to prevent injuries to third persons while they are on that property. The particular level of care owed by the owner/occupier depends upon how that third person came to be on the property. For example, those who are “invited” upon the property are owed the greatest level of care. Those who are not so much invited, but “permitted” to be on the property are owed somewhat less care. Those who are “trespassing” on the property are owed the least level of care. As to trespassers, the owner/occupier only must refrain from causing willful or wanton injury.
Exception for Trespassing Children
In some situations, Georgia law carves out an exception for trespassing children. The exception, known as the “doctrine of attractive nuisances,” holds that an owner/occupier will be held liable for injuries to children trespassing on the property, if:
- The injury (or death) is caused by a hazardous condition or object on the property,
- The property is attractive to curious children who, because of their “tender age,” and
- The children unable to understand or appreciate the risk involved in the condition or object.
Examples of Attractive Nuisances
The most usual example of an attractive nuisance is an unguarded swimming pool. According to information supplied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drowning is a leading cause of injury and death for young children aged one to four. Nonfatal submersion injuries are also significantly problematic. They can cause brain damage that may result in a host of problems, including:
- Long-term disabilities including memory problems
- Learning disabilities
- Permanent loss of basic functions
Other examples of attractive nuisances include abandoned cars, old refrigerators or freezers, and open pits.
Reasonable Care Required for Trespassing Children
The attractive nuisance doctrine requires the owner/occupier to exercise reasonable care to see that trespassing children are not injured. The doctrine proceeds under a theory that the hazardous condition or object that lures or attracts a young child is essentially “an invitation” to play with the danger. The owner/occupier is not held strictly liable for harm to a child; there must be some element of negligence present. For example, in most successful attractive nuisance claims involving swimming pools, the owner/occupier failed to lock a gate or otherwise secure the pool area so that a small child could not gain access.
Warm Weather is Here, and So Is Risk of Drowning
The long, warm season for which Georgia is known has arrived. Pools are beginning to open. With the opening of pools comes the risks associated with drowning. All pool owners and operators are cautioned to take steps necessary to prevent accidents.
Contact B. Clarke Nash, P.C.
Has your child been injured due to what might be considered an “attractive nuisance?” Insurance companies rigorously defend these sorts of cases, because the damages awarded can be quite large. Strong, aggressive legal representation is generally required to move a claim along to success. At the Law Offices of B. Clarke Nash, P.C., you will have that strong, aggressive legal guidance that you deserve. Clarke doesn’t maintain an office full of case managers. He and his staff are responsive to the needs of the client. When you call the office to check on your case, you can discuss the situation with Clarke himself. Clarke once worked for the insurance companies; he knows how they operate and what motivates them. He has office availability throughout the state of Georgia. Contact Clarke at (912) 200-5292 or complete the online form to schedule a consultation today.