Premises liability for homeowners can be a complicated issue. For those who own hones, it is also a costly one, as it involves increased insurance premiums and civil judgments. Injury victims may find it difficult to navigate premises liability law in order to be fairly compensated for their injuries. An Orange County personal injury lawyer will help protect injury victims’ legal rights in order to secure fair compensation for their losses and injuries.
Attractive Nuisance Law in California
Prior to 1970, California homeowners could be legally responsible (“liable”) for injuries caused to children trespassing on their property. This is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine, and it applies when a child is lured onto a property by some attractive condition (such as a pool or trampoline). However, in 1970 the Court of Appeals removed the attractive nuisance doctrine from California law entirely with its decision of Beard v. Atchison, 4 Cal. App. 3d 130. At the time the Beard case was decided, recent changes to the Civil Code had removed the distinctions between invitees and trespassers for purposes of premises liability. Now, a landowner owed a generic duty of care to all foreseeable entrants. Because adult trespassers were no longer held to a higher standard, the Court determined that child trespassers could not be, either.
Today, Section 1714 of the California Civil Code makes everyone responsible for injuries caused by a want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property. This means homeowners must use due care to prevent injuries to anyone who comes on their property. This standard also places a large emphasis on foreseeability: who might reasonably be expected to come on the property? What sort of injuries are likely to be sustained? What dangers are common and known? Because of this emphasis on foreseeability, homeowners are generally considered to have a greater obligation toward their invitees than to unexpected trespassers.
Trespassers - including child trespassers - may still prove that a homeowner failed to use due care, but it is more difficult for them to prove that the landowner should have foreseen their injuries.
How to Protect Your Children From Attractive Nuisances
Despite the fact that California law no longer recognizes attractive nuisances, children still face many dangers in their everyday lives. By identifying and remedying conditions on their own property, parents can help reduce the risk of injury. Swimming pools are a notorious risk - one which has caused drowning to remain one of the highest causes of death for children in the United States. Man-made ponds, lakes, fountains and other water features also pose serious danger to children (even those children who know how to swim). Parents should take reasonable precautions to protect children from any source of water on their land.
It is also important to prepare children for the dangers they will face outside of the home. Constructions sites and railroad tracks are also common attractive nuisances. Teach children to stay away from these areas. This is especially important when dangerous sites are on the child’s school route, and are likely to invite a shortcut. By learning to identify and avoid hazards, children can help to protect themselves from the world around them.