Children are almost magically drawn to certain man-made hazards such as machinery and railroad turntables. Due to this, courts have created a legal fiction known as the attractive nuisance doctrine in order to force an owner to protect children from their own curiosity. The owner should anticipate that children could come onto the property simply because of the interesting nature of the machinery and take precautions, such as erecting a fence or other barrier to keep children and others away from the possible dangers.
An owner of land is liable for physical harm caused by an artificial condition upon the land if:
(1) The place where the condition exists is one upon which the owner knows or has reason to know that children are likely to trespass
(2) The condition is one of which the owner knows or has reason to know and which he realizes or should realize will involve an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily injury to others, including children
(3) The children because of their youth do not discover the condition or realize the risk involved in intermeddling with it or in coming within the area made dangerous by it
(4) The utility to the owner of maintaining the condition and the burden of eliminating the danger are slight as compared with the risk to children involved
(5) The owner fails to exercise reasonable care to eliminate the danger or otherwise to protect the children.
There must be evidence to support all five of these conditions, or the owner is entitled to summary judgment. This attractive nuisance doctrine does not apply to a child who is an invited guest on the owner's property.
The property owner's duty toward the care children that may be on their property is greater than their duty owed to adults. Even if the trespasser is a child or another that participate in dangerous behavior, the property owner must still take precautions to prevent foreseeable harm. A classic example of a property owner's greater duty of care to children arises in the context of backyard swimming pools, both in-ground and above-ground. Owners must protect their pools by using fences, gates, and locks to keep children from harm. They will be found liable for injuries to children, even trespassing children, and those that were warned to stay off the property if they fail to do so.
Slip and Fall
A slip and fall action is a type of personal injury lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who has been injured by a slip or fall, usually on the defendant's property. Plaintiffs in these cases include the grocery store customer who slips, due to liquid or a piece of food on the floor, falling and causing injury; or a hotel guest who slips in the shower and injuring their back. It must be shown in these cases that the owner of the property had been notified or had knowledge of the condition, yet failed to correct the problem within a reasonable amount of time. If a hazard is knowingly encountered, then the plaintiff may have trouble proving the defendant liable.
Generally speaking, pit bulls and rottweilers are known to be vicious dogs that tend to attack, many times without provocation. Many states have laws pertaining to these specific animals. Owners of any type of animal may be held liable for the injuries that animal causes to others. There is a difference from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, depending on the legal theory of recovery in the plaintiff's location, how easily a plaintiff may win a lawsuit pertaining to dog bits.
It may be required that the animal owner knew, or should have known, that their animal was inclined to attack or bite. The plaintiff may only need to show negligence on the part of the owner in other jurisdictions to recover compensation for his injuries. In the case of a wild animal, such as a bears, monkeys or others, injures to the plaintiff may be the responsibility of the animal's owner under a theory of strict liability regardless of the plaintiff's conduct.
"Dog-bite" statutes in various states are designed to address these variations. Some local municipalities may also have their own laws that also refer to the responsibility of pet owners, making them liable for the actions of their pets.
If the injured party is an adult, a defense to their claim may be that the animal was provoked. If a clear warning was given that an animal should not be approached in any way, and the injured party still proceeded to approach the animal, the owner may be able to avoid responsibility for the attack. This does not pertain in most cases if the plaintiff is a child.
Once it is established that the animal owner is responsible for the injuries, it must also be determined what the amount of the damages are. Evidence, such as doctor and/or hospital bills, showing the amounts charged to treat the injury must be provided. Lost wages may also be recovered if the injury kept the plaintiff from performing his or her job duties. Any permanent disability caused by the injury, as well as compensation for pain and suffering may also be recovered.
It is required by law that all elevators, other than hand elevators and power and hand dumbwaiters, and all escalators must be inspected every six months and must comply with American National Standard Safety Codes. If an elevator or escalator is involved in an accident, it must be removed from service immediately until inspected by a certified inspector. Once it is inspected, it may not be placed back into service until inspected again. Any deviation from this rule and repairs the elevator is made or it is placed back into service after an accident without inspection, any claimant from the accident is entitled to a rebuttable assumption that the owner was negligent in its maintenance. The exception to this is if there is no evidence, either before or after a fall, which the elevator failed to function properly, even if the owner violated the statute by failing to allow inspections.
Because elevators and escalators are mechanical devices, they unavoidably break down and sometimes become dangerous and cause injury without negligence on the part of the owner. Owners must have been able to discover the problem prior to the malfunction in order to hold the owner liable for the resulting injuries. For example, when a malfunction occurs due to the failure of an axle bearing, and there may be no way to predict the bearing's life expectancy or when it will give out. In this case, the owner may not liable for the claimant's injury. However, if visual inspections during routine maintenance of escalators or elevator may have revealed a problem, then an issue exists that may cause the owner to be liable for an injury resulting from a subsequent malfunction.
Injuries due to automatic doors on the premises are more difficult to prove owner liability. Owners do not have an extraordinary duty of care in regards to these. If an automatic door unexpectedly closes, causing injury to a customer, a store owner is held liable only if there was prior knowledge of a problem with the door or failed to have the doors inspected in a reasonable manner. If a walker is used to go through a revolving door and someone is injured during this process, the owner is not responsible unless there is evidence that the door malfunctioned. Automatic doors may open in the wrong direction until manually reset. If this is not done, then the owner may be held liable for an injury that was caused by the doors opening incorrectly.