Property owners have a responsibility to ensure the safety of their premises, especially children who may wander onto their land uninvited. According to the New Jersey Courts, property owners are liable for harm that may come to an unwanted child visitor.
There are several reasons why the law puts liability on the property owner and not the child.
Natural curiosity and naivety
Children are naturally curious and may not fully comprehend the risks associated with exploring unfamiliar places. Property owners should anticipate this curiosity and take reasonable steps to prevent potential harm, especially if their property contains hazards that might attract children.
Lack of understanding of trespassing
Children, particularly young ones, may not understand the concept of trespassing or private property boundaries. They likely have no idea that wandering onto someone else’s property could be dangerous and is illegal. Property owners should be aware of this and take measures to prevent injuries to uninvited child trespassers.
Unable to avoid potential hazards
Children may not understand that something could be hazardous and hurt them. For example, they may see a pool as a fun time, not understanding that it could put them at risk of drowning. Something that look like it would be enjoyable can attract children who have no sense of fear even when they should.
Property owners have a duty to warn uninvited children about potential dangers on their property. This could involve posting warning signs, securing or covering attractive nuisances or taking other reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. Encouraging responsible property ownership helps ensure that neighborhoods remain secure for everyone, including children.