Most premises liability laws absolve property owners of any responsibility for injuries suffered by trespassers. Generally, it wouldn’t be fair to allow compensation for an injury that occurred while the victim was breaking the law. However, many states make an exception to this rule when children are the victims, since children do not have the same concept of danger and understanding of property boundaries that adults do. In Rhode Island, property owners can be liable for injuries to trespassing children if the child was on the premises as a result of an “attractive nuisance."
What Is Considered an Attractive Nuisance in Rhode Island?
In premises liability cases, an attractive nuisance is any dangerous item that could attract the attention of children and entice them onto the property. The exact definition varies, but most courts agree that attractive nuisances include man-made objects that are solely owned and maintained by the property owner. Here are some common examples of attractive nuisances:
- Water features (including swimming pools, fountains, or wells)
- Holes or tunnels
- Ladders, stairs, or scaffolding
- Paths, gardens, or rock piles
- Dangerous machinery (such as snowblowers or lawn mowers)
- Dogs, cats, or some type of dangerous animal
When Can Parents Sue for a Child’s Injury on Someone Else’s Property?
Parents may be able to get compensation for an injured child if they can prove the property owner knew of the injury risk but allowed the dangerous condition to exist on the property without taking proper precautions. For instance, a child who trespasses into a neighbor’s yard and is injured on a trampoline could be owed compensation if the gate to the yard was not locked or if the neighbor was aware that children routinely jump the fence. While neighbors may attempt to deny liability by posting “no trespassing” signs, some courts do not consider signs as an effective method for deterring children.
If your child was injured on someone else’s property, our attorneys can determine who may be held liable. Contact our offices today to schedule your no-obligation consultation with our legal advisors.