What happens when spring and summer finally arrive? After a long harsh winter many of our children are ready for the weather to warm up so that they can get outside to play. While the warmer months might be the best time for the children to play outside, it is also the time of year there tends to be an increase in the amount of injuries children sustain.
Participation in organized sports results in a number of injuries each spring. The most common injury to children during these warm weather months seems to be related to the use of trampolines and swimming pools. It is important that as adults, we ensure our children’s safety by supervising them while they engage in these types of activities. However, no amount of supervision will prevent all injuries.
Children are curious by nature. They like to explore, test boundaries, and try new things. This leaves open the possibility that a child can be injured in your own back yard, even if that child does not belong to you or was not invited to your property. As the homeowner, you could be responsible for injuries sustained by a child even if you did not give the child permission to be on your property.
This legal theory is known as the doctrine of “attractive nuisance” and it most commonly applies in situations involving recreational items like swimming pools and trampolines. As a homeowner you can be liable for injuries to a child if the structure causing the injury is maintained or permitted on your property; the structure is particularly dangerous to children, and children are unlikely to see it as a danger. Structures like swimming pools, trampolines, swing sets, etc. are attractive to children. As the homeowner you legally are presumed to know the structure or object is on your property and that there is a likelihood that trespassing children could be injured by it. If the child sustained a natural and foreseeable injury that could result from using the structure or object, you may be liable for the injury.
As a part of your spring/summer maintenance, it is important to take reasonable steps to ensure that children are properly supervised and that recreational items like trampolines, pools, and treehouses, etc., are properly secured. Securing, fencing or containing recreational items in your yard can go a very long way toward avoiding injuries and liability, making for a much more enjoyable summer!