When a person suffers a serious personal injury as a result of another party’s negligence, it is common to work with an Atlanta personal injury lawyer to file a claim for compensation and to hold the defendant accountable for damages. In personal injury cases caused by dangers on other people’s premises or property, it is important to take steps to hold the property owner accountable if they failed to maintain their premises in a reasonably safe manner.
We often assume that we will not get hurt in a retail store because of a hazard on the premises, or that we will not sustain an injury while visiting a friend or family due to an unrepaired defect at their home. Yet at the same time, property owners are not generally liable for personal injuries sustained by trespassers on their property.
What happens when a child wanders onto someone else’s property and suffers personal injuries because of an attractive object on the property, such as a swimming pool or a trampoline? In some cases where children trespass because of an attractive object on the premises—known as an “attractive nuisance”—the property owner may be liable for injuries under Georgia law.
Georgia Property Owners Do Not Owe a Duty of Care to Trespassers, but the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine is an Exception
Under Georgia premises liability law, “a lawful possessor of land owes no duty of care to a trespasser except to refrain from causing a willful or wanton injury.” In other words, anyone who owns or rents property does not have to ensure that the property is reasonably safe for trespassers. Property owners or renters are only liable for trespasser injuries if they take steps to intentionally injure a trespasser without regard for a person’s safety.
However, the statute clarifies that the lack of duty owed to trespassers does not apply to “the doctrine of attractive nuisance.”
What is the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine?
What is an attractive nuisance, and how did the attractive nuisance doctrine arise? According to Georgia case law, “the theory of attractive nuisance arose to protect trespassing children in circumstances where their presence could be reasonably anticipated and measures to protect them could be undertaken without placing a heavy burden upon the owner’s unrestricted use of his land.”
How Does the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine Apply in Personal Injury Lawsuits Involving Children?
A property owner in the Atlanta area can be responsible for injuries resulting from “inherently dangerous instrumentalities, which are attractive to children,” according to case law. In short, the property owner can be liable when attractive nuisances harm children who wander onto the premises.
Georgia homeowners must take steps to fence a pool, for example, or to take other steps to prevent a child who trespasses from playing on a trampoline or a treehouse on the property. When property owners or renters do not take such steps, they can be liable for injuries.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Atlanta
If you have questions about the doctrine of attractive nuisance and filing a personal injury claim after your child sustained injuries on another party’s property, our firm can help. An experienced Atlanta personal injury attorney can speak with you today. Contact Stewart Miller Simmons Trial Attorneys online or call us at (404) 529-3476.