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Who is liable for a child's injuries after trespassing?

Property owners often assume that they are not liable for any injuries that happen on their property if the victim was not supposed to be there in the first place and they were really just trespassing. However, this is often not actually the case.

One example is known as the attractive nuisance doctrine. It specifically relates to children, noting that a homeowner who has a dangerous condition on their property, one that may attract children who do not understand the risks involved, can still be liable if those children get hurt.

Perhaps the most common example is a pool. Say a homeowner has a pool built on their property in view of the road. They put up signs warning people not to trespass and assume that is good enough. Then a small child walks past the signs, falls in the pool, and suffers significant brain damage before being rescued.

The homeowner can argue that the child should not have been there, but perhaps the child could not read the signs. Maybe they were too young to understand the danger of the pool. It's true that they were trespassing, but the homeowner still did not take the proper steps to protect an innocent young person from serious harm, the risk of which they created by having the pool constructed. This is why fences and latching gates are often required around pools. Homeowners need to try to make the property reasonably safe for everyone, even those who were not invited.

These cases can get a bit complex, so make sure you know where you stand and what options you have if you or your loved one suffered a serious injury on someone else's property. The answers may surprise you.

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