Are homeowners liable if children get hurt playing in their yard?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2021 | Premises Liability |

A situation homeowners in a residential area with many families may encounter is children wanting to play in their unfenced yards, especially if they are spacious.

While allowing neighborhood youths to frolic and exercise on their property may seem like a harmless and kind thing to do, said kids may sustain injuries in the course of their activities. In such cases, the property owner may bear legal responsibility.

When they have permission

If children are at the home with its owner’s knowledge and consent, they are lawful visitors. This means the possessor has an obligation to protect them by maintaining reasonable care. Basically, they need to take precautionary measures like fixing broken steps or trimming precariously dangling branches off trees. In the case they are unable to correct a dangerous feature, they need to give sufficient warning to guests of its existence. If kids enter the premises for an event like a party or playdate and end up hurt, the law may hold the property holder liable.

When they do not have permission

Regulations do not compel homeowners to shield unwanted trespassers from personal harm on their property. They only require them to avoid purposefully damaging or permitting damage to happen to them. It might seem instinctive to believe that children entering peoples’ yards without permission fall under the same umbrella. However, under the attractive nuisance doctrine, if there is an item or area that the owner knows may appeal to a minor, they must alert possible visitors (unlawful or not) about it and make it safe. Examples of such attractions include pools or lakes (the CDC labels drowning as the top cause of accidental death for toddlers ages one through four).

Regularly inspecting and correcting anything that might cause dangerous circumstances may help avoid premises liability suits.