By nature, children are curious and often venture onto someone’s property without an invitation. If a child receives an injury while trespassing on someone’s property, is the property owner responsible? Under Kansas premises liability law, a special principle called the attractive nuisance doctrine holds the answer to that question.
Premises liability is an area of personal injury law under which property owners or lessees may be responsible for injuries sustained on the property they own or occupy. Liability depends on the applicable principles of negligence, or breach of a duty owed to the person on the property.
The duty owed by a property owner depends on the status of the person who receives injuries. If a person is an invited guest or business visitor, the landowner owes a specific level of duty to keep the person safe from injury. If an adult trespasses on the property, the landowner has only the duty to refrain from intentionally or willfully harming the person. However, when a child trespasses on the property and suffers injuries, a special rule of premises liability applies. The attractive nuisance doctrine determines the liability of the property owner.
Kansas courts, like courts in many states, have long recognized the applicability of the attractive nuisance doctrine in cases where a child receives injuries on another person’s property. These special rules recognize that children do not have sufficient mental awareness to recognize dangerous conditions, especially when the condition is particularly inviting to youngsters.
The attractive nuisance doctrine may apply in many different situations. Examples of conditions that might constitute an attractive nuisance for a child include:
Other conditions on property may also constitute an attractive nuisance for children.
A landowner’s (or lessee’s) responsibility for injuries caused by an attractive nuisance is not absolute. Liability is determined based on the specific facts of a case. In some cases, the Kansas law of comparative negligence may also be relevant in ascertaining liability.
In determining responsibility under the attractive nuisance doctrine, Kansas courts apply specific criteria to the circumstances of an injury. To impose liability, a court examines whether:
The court evaluates the reasonableness of the landowner’s conduct in view of all the surrounding circumstances and conditions. If the facts of a case satisfy these conditions, and the landowner fails to take reasonable measures to eliminate the risk or danger presented by the condition, a court may impose liability for injuries from the attractive nuisance.
For any type of Kansas personal injury case, determining legal liability requires a complex analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding the injury, as well as application of the relevant Kansas laws. That holds true for any case that may involve the attractive nuisance doctrine and premises liability rules.
If your child suffers injuries on another person’s property, you should talk with an experienced personal injury attorney at the earliest possible time. Gathering information about the situation surrounding an injury often becomes more difficult as time passes.
It is especially important to talk with a knowledgeable lawyer before you speak with the landowner, file a claim with the owner’s insurance company, or talk with a representative of the insurance company. If you discuss the situation with the property owner or insurance company, you could make statements that undermine your ability to recover compensation for your child’s injury.
If your child’s injuries entitle you to compensation, calculating the amount of financial recovery also requires a complicated evaluation. Damages are especially difficult to calculate when a child receives injuries that affect the quality of the child’s life for an indefinite amount of time.
You should rely on your attorney to evaluate the potential amount of compensation your child might receive. Above all, do not rely on statements by an insurance company relating to the value of your claim. The company’s goal in any personal injury case always is to settle a claim for the smallest possible amount.
At the Salina, Kansas law firm Hampton & Royce, L.C., we assist clients throughout the state with personal injury matters, including cases involving premises liability and the attractive nuisance doctrine. Contact us to schedule a consultation to discuss your case with us.