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Holland & Usry, P.A.

My child was playing in our backyard and wandered onto our neighbor’s property where she was injured when she fell into his pool. She has a concussion, she is hurting, and medical bills are adding up. Can I hold my neighbor liable?

Yes, if certain facts and circumstances apply. Historically, it has been recognized that the owner of property has no duty to protect trespassers from injury. However, one long-held exception is when it comes to children. In recent years South Carolina has simplified the law to a single exception to this enduring trespassers’ rule, dangerous conditions that injure children.

The law recognizes that children have curious minds and sometimes cannot fully understand the dangers in which they put themselves. Thus, landowners should be mindful of the possibility of children coming onto their property, and should take reasonable steps to protect them from harm.

Premise Liability for Trespassers Exception

In South Carolina, the owner of land may be held responsible for physical harm to children trespassing on his property caused by a dangerous condition if…

  • The landowner knows, or should know, that children are likely to come onto the property. For example, the landowner lives in a suburban neighborhood but may not have a fence around his property.
  • On the property is an object or condition which the landowner knows—or should know—could cause death or serious bodily harm to children. Think: This landowner has a pool.
  • The child injured is too young or inexperienced to understand the risk involved with the condition. Think: A five-year-old would not fully grasp the risk of falling into this pool by playing near it.
  • The benefit of maintaining the condition versus the cost required to make the condition safer is minimal compared to the risk to children. Think: The cost to put a fence around the pool or a cover on the pool would be rather inexpensive, while the risk to children is serious injury or death.
  • The landowner fails to exercise reasonable care or eliminate the danger. Think: There is no fence around the yard or cover on the pool when the child is injured.

Whether we’re talking about a swimming pool, a trampoline, or an old refrigerator tucked away in a garage, these dangerous items seem to fascinate kids—and yet they are serious hazards for children.

As you can see, in certain cases a parent or guardian can recover on behalf of an injured child who wanders onto another’s property and is injured…but each case is different. And you should hire a professional to handle it the right way from the start, since you’ll likely end up in court to get a settlement approved.

If your child has been injured on another’s property, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Holland & Usry, P.A. at 864.582.0416 or toll-free at 888.230.1841 for a free and confidential consultation.

 

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