Florida Toddler Nearly Drowns in Pond & the Attractive Nuisance Doctrine
On November 19th, one Florida toddler was rushed to the emergency room after nearly drowning in a pond on one Boca Raton development. At this time, no additional details are available concerning the child’s health.
Unfortunately, accidents like these happen all too often, but under what circumstances can landowners be sued and found liable for these types of accidents?
Attractive Nuisance Doctrine & Law
Historically, a legal principle known as attractive nuisance could apply when children were involved in accidents on someone else’s property like this. The attractive nuisance doctrine effectively imposes a duty on all landowners to take reasonable precautions not to “lure” a child into a dangerous situation on their property, and can lead to landowners being held accountable if the child is injured or killed while on that property.
In this case, for example, there are no indications that the pond—which was evidently deep enough for a child to drown in—had been fenced off or barricaded in any way. If the neighborhood was known to have children in it, the property owners themselves are required to protect any children from being “lured” onto the property and into the pond, even if the children are trespassing.
Florida abides by the attractive nuisance doctrine by writing in an exemption to the statute on immunity from liability for injury to trespassers on real property, indicating that under most circumstances, a landowner will not be held liable for any civil damages for the death or injury of a trespasser, however, this does not alter the common law as it pertains to the “attractive nuisance doctrine.”
The law goes beyond bodies of water–such as ponds and swimming pools–and also covers iceboxes, refrigerators, deep-freeze lockers, washing and drying machines, and any similar units that have been abandoned or discarded as an attractive nuisance to children and a “menace to their health and safety.” If the property owner knows or has reason to know that an area where a dangerous condition exists, a child may trespass, and this condition could cause an unreasonable risk of harm to the child (where the child cannot realize the risk involved due to their age), the property owner must act with reasonable care to remove the it or protect that child from the risk of danger (if the burden of eliminating the danger is less than the risk posed to the child).
This also means that it is not necessarily enough that the property owners put up a fence: if that fence has gaps in it large enough for a child to fit through, and the child gets through those gaps and injures themselves, the landowner could be held negligent.
Florida Drowning Injury & Death Attorneys
If your child has been injured or killed, drowning on someone else’s property due to their negligence, an experienced attorney can help. Contact one of our experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Friedland & Associates today to find out more.