Children may get hurt in numerous different settings, including at school, at daycare, on the streets, or on someone else’s property. Children are entitled to substantial legal protections even when they are considered trespassers. In many cases, a California premises liability attorney may be able to help you hold a property owner liable for injuries that your child suffers due to a dangerous property condition. California child injury lawyer Travis G. Black can advise you about your options and represent you as needed.
Pursuing Compensation for an Accident Involving a Child
Generally, when a child is injured on someone else’s property due to a dangerous condition, you may hold the property owner, occupier, or lessee of the property liable under a premises liability theory. Historically, the attractive nuisance doctrine was used for children who were hurt by dangerous conditions on property onto which they had trespassed.
This was part of a rule that your legal status as a visitor should affect whether you could receive compensation for injuries suffered on someone else’s property. The different visitor statuses were invitees, licensees, and trespassers. Your reason for being on the land dictated whether you were entitled to recover damages, and usually trespassers could not recover damages. The attractive nuisance doctrine allowed for an exception to that general rule if the trespasser was a child injured by an artificial condition on someone else’s property, and the child was induced to trespass because the condition was attractive. A property owner might then be liable for something like an unguarded pool if they knew or should have known that a child would not understand the risk of the condition, and it was feasible to repair it.
Currently, a child may recover compensation for injuries caused by a dangerous property condition based on whether it should have been foreseeable to the owner, occupier, or lessee that a child would be injured on the premises. The court will look at whether the defendant used reasonable care to keep the property safe more than it looks at the reason why the child was on the property.
When trying to decide whether reasonable care was used when a child was illicitly on the property, the court will consider whether it was foreseeable that children would trespass, whether the property owner knew or should have known about a dangerous condition on the property, whether the child should have understood the risk presented by the dangerous condition, and how much the property owner had control over the danger. A child injury attorney can help California residents determine how these factors may apply to their case.
If the condition that caused the accident was something like a pool or an old piece of equipment, it may be foreseeable that a child would come onto the property to inspect it. In premises liability cases, adults are held to the standard of an ordinary reasonable person, but when child injuries are involved, a child is only expected to use the degree of care that a reasonably careful child of the same experience, knowledge, intelligence, and age would use in a particular situation. Kids under the age of five are considered to be unable to act negligently as a matter of law, so if your child was injured on someone else’s property, the other side is unlikely to raise the issue of whether your child was comparatively negligent.
If you can establish that it was foreseeable and that the property owner should be held accountable, you may be able to recover economic and noneconomic damages for your child, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. When a child is severely disabled by their injuries, you may also be able to recover compensation for lost earning capacity, rehabilitation, lifelong care, and other needs. In many cases, large settlements are structured settlements whereby the funds are placed in a trust to be distributed over a period of years.