Suffering an injury on another person's property can be a frightening experience. However, if you are on the property illegally (often due to trespassing), the landowner doesn't need to provide reasonable care other than to refrain from causing you willful or wanton harm.
In Oklahoma, trespassers who are injured on someone else’s property cannot hold the property owner responsible for their injuries. But what happens if the trespasser is a child?
According to the “attractive nuisance” doctrine, the owner of a potentially dangerous property can be held liable for injuries suffered by trespassing children if a hazardous condition or object attractive to children causes these injuries. Simply put, an attractive nuisance is a structure or condition on the property that is both hazardous and irresistible to children.
Common types of attractive nuisances include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Swimming pools, ponds, and other water attractions
- Open pits
- Discarded appliances, such as washers, dryers, and refrigerators
- Abandoned vehicles
- Construction equipment
Children younger than seven years of age will not be considered negligent. Children between seven and 14 years old are presumed to be incapable of negligence unless it is shown that they knew and appreciated the danger. The attractive nuisance doctrine doesn’t apply to kids older than 14 and injuries to mentally handicapped adults.
Property owners are held liable for an attractive nuisance claim when:
- The owner's property has an attraction or condition that is dangerous to children.
- The owner fails to do anything to prevent children from entering the property and suffering injury.
- The child is too young to comprehend the risks of trespassing.
A property owner is obligated to correct the hazardous, such as discard old appliances and vehicles, or take action to prevent a child from entering the property or being harmed, such as installing a fence or covering a pool.
If your child has suffered an injury on the property of someone else in Oklahoma, the doctrine of attractive nuisance may apply to your case, and may be the foundation of your personal injury claim to recover compensation for your child’s injuries.