Property owners often ask: Am I liable if a child is injured on my property? And, like nearly every question concerning legal liability, the answer is always: it depends. Just because an injury occurred on your property, it doesn’t automatically mean you are liable. However, for property owners, and even renters, if any person is injured on their property due to their negligence, then there is potential for legal liability.
When it comes to children, there is additional exposure to liability if your property contains what is known as an attractive nuisance, or you have agreed to supervise a play date or babysit.
Premises Liability and Negligent Supervision
If a person is injured on your property due to your negligence in maintaining the property, or keeping it safe, you could be liable under the legal theory of premises liability. For instance, if a guest in your home slips and falls on a wet floor, or a hole in the stairs, that you did not warn them about, and they’re injured, they may have an injury claim against you. This is true regardless of a guest’s age. However, not every injury leads to liability.
When children are playing on your property, under your supervision, and one is injured, you could also be held liable under a theory of negligent supervision. Generally, when a parent/person agrees to allow children to gather at their home, they are accepting the responsibility of keeping them safe. When children trespass, liability may not be as cut and dry.
An attractive nuisance is something on the property that would usually attract a curious or playing child, or even preteens or teenagers. Swimming pools, trampolines, or construction sites, are among the most popular of the attractive nuisances.
While there may be state law regulations about safeguarding construction sites from children in all 50 states, generally, pools and trampolines and other fun things are left to local ordinances. However, regardless of whether local ordinances exist, not taking actions to prevent trespassing children from using these types of items could actually lead to legal liability.